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Imran Khan, Qureshi clash with judge hearing US cipher case

Fuming former foreign minister snatches file from state defence counsel, smashes it on wall

By News Desk

January 27, 2024 12:31 PM


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An unpleasant situation developed during the hearing of the US cipher case in the Official Secrets Act court set up inside Adiala Jail on Saturday when both former prime minister and ex-PTI chairman Imran Khan and the party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi misbehaved with judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

In a fit of anger, Qureshi snatched a file from the State Defence Counsel and threw it towards the wall, prompting the judge to issue him a warning.

Imran, too, had an altercation with the judge.

Earlier on Saturday, to the dismay of Imran and Qureshi, the judge, in an order of yesterday’s hearing, appointed state defence councils for both of them.

In his order, the judge said that when the hearing began yesterday, no senior lawyer appeared in the court on behalf of the defendants. “And when the hearing resumed at 12:30 after an interval, still no lawyer was there,” read the order.

The judge further said that he gave several deadlines to these counsels, but they failed to show up, leaving the court with no other option but to appoint state defence counsels for them.

It was stated in the order that an e-mail was sent to the advocate general (AG) Islamabad in which he was asked to send to the court a list of leading lawyers who could represent the accused in the court.

The AG, the judge went on to say, wrote a letter in response in which he provided him with a list of competent lawyers. “Now Malik Abdur Rehman Advocate has been appointed as a state defence counsel for the ex-PTI chairman, while Hazrat Younus Advocate will represent the PTI vice chairman.”

 

During the hearing of the case earlier today, senior PTI lawyers were not present so which cross-examination of witnesses couldn’t take place again.

However, assistant lawyers Usman Gill and Khalid Yousuf Chaudhry were in attendance. The state defence counsels appointed by the court for Imran and Qureshi, Advocates Rehman and Younis also turned up.

At the hearing’s outset, a heated argument occurred between Imran and the judge with the PTI founder and Qureshi expressing shock at the government lawyers representing them in court.

Imran and Qureshi expressed no-confidence in the ability of the lawyers to defend them with the latter throwing the case file at the government lawyers.

Judge Zulqarnain reminded Imran and Qureshi that their lawyers did not appear before the court despite being given three chances.

At this, Qureshi interjected saying: “This is not a government drama and it will not go on like this. What value will the trial have like this?”

The judge maintained that it was easy for him to put an end to the right of defence, however, Judge Zulqarnanin said that he still granted the accused persons with state defence counsels.

“I am tired of ordering your lawyers to appear before the court,” he added. “The Supreme Court had stated that the court can cancel the bail awarded to the accused persons if hurdles are created in the trial.”

Here, Qureshi said a mockery was made out of the Supreme Court’s decision, highlighting that he was picked up in another case as soon as he was released.

Judge Zulqarnain then asked Qureshi what was the point of delaying the case.

“No one stays happy in jail,” Qureshi replied. “I want to present my lawyers. I don’t trust government lawyers.”

The judge told Qureshi to call his lawyers to the court.

“Prosecution-named lawyers will be carrying out our defence,” he said. “This only proves that the decision has already been taken against us.”

Gul informed the court that former caretaker Punjab chief minister Najam Sethi recently said that the verdict of the cipher case would be announced by February 5.

“Najam Sethi should be summoned to the court and asked where he obtained that information from,” Qureshi told the judge. At this, the judge asked Qureshi whether he trusted Sethi more or the court.

FIA prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi urged the court to cancel the bail of Imran and Qureshi in light of the Supreme Court verdict. Here, Judge Zulqarnain told the prosecutor that he would look into the bail matter himself.

Imran and Qureshi also got a chance to talk to media persons inside the courtroom. However, as the hearing continued further, journalists were later asked to leave the courtroom.

At this, the judge said he provided them with whatever relief could be given.

“Whether it’s providing you with the cipher or meeting with the lawyers, I accepted all your requests,” he said. “I have 75 requests on record pertaining to meetings.”

Imran pointed out that the meetings did not take place despite the judge’s order.

The ex-premier deplored how he did not have the right to fight the case through his lawyers. “The case proceedings should be conducted in Urdu,” Imran said. “We don’t understand the English spoken by government lawyers.”

The PTI founder termed the case proceedings as conflicting with the demands of a transparent trial, adding that such a trial had never taken place in the country’s history.

Qureshi said the Kot Lakhpat jail had never been disrespected like this before. He said justice was being denied. “Neither is there present the fear of Allah, fear of the Constitution, or the fear of law.”

The PTI founder contended before the court that their lawyers were not being allowed to enter the jail.

“If Shah Mahmood Qureshi wants to present his arguments, he can do it himself too,” the judge said. “It was easy for me to deprive you of your right to defence.”

Accepting the request of the accused persons, the court ordered the Adiala Jail superintendent to allow the defendants to meet their lawyers.

The cross-examination of nine more witnesses was completed today by the government lawyers. In total, the cross-examination of 13 witnesses has been completed so far.

The hearing was adjourned till Monday when the cross-examinations of 12 more witnesses will begin.

Reporters: Ahmad Mansoor and Hashir Warraich


News Desk


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