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Appeal against Cypher sentence: FIA prosecutor to finish arguments this week

By News Desk

May 6, 2024 08:37 PM


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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has put off the hearing on the appeals of PTI founder Imran Khan and former FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi against the cypher sentence till May 8.

Chief Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mian Gul Hasan Aurangzeb conducted the hearing.

PTI lawyer Barrister Salman Safdar urged FIA prosecutor Hamid Shah to complete arguments, stressing: "This case has gone for too long.”

Hamid Ali Shah replied:  "It is not my intention to prolong the arguments."

He added: “Salman Safdar has given very long arguments in Ramadan. I have to answer their arguments.”

However, he said he would finish his arguments this week. The FIA prosecutor told the court about violating clauses of rules and regulations the PTI leaders committed by using the classified documents for political mileage.

Shah apprised the court that all cypher telegrams with ‘classified stamp’ are disposed of after six months, even if these are ‘declassified’.

The National Security Committee (NSC) decided to demarche on March 31, which marked the completion of the prescribed procedure for the classified document, except for sending back its copies to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he said.

He said all copies had been returned to the foreign ministry, except the one with the former prime minister Khan.

“Can an accused be defended in the absence of a defence lawyer or it would lessen the importance of the defendant’s testimony?” questioned CJ Farooq.

The FIA prosecutor replied that there was no need to ensure the defence lawyer’s presence during a testimony under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The IHC CJ also questioned the legality of the sentence on both charges of “willful” and “negligent” loss of the classified document.

The FIA prosecutor defended the outcome as both charges would be imposed on the accused persons’ moves on separate occasions.

He added the diplomatic cable cannot be taken away from its dedicated place as the authorities need to make special security arrangements for the container where the cypher is placed.

Justice Aurangzeb questioned whether ex-PM Khan’s principal secretary Azam Khan personally signed the confirmation receipt after receiving the classified document.

To this, the prosecutor replied that Azam’s staff had received the cipher’s copy and later, he handed over the same copy to the former premier.

As the court questioned whether the PTI founder was aware of the importance of the cypher, the prosecutor read out the speech of the PTI founder on his YouTube channel in the court.

He added that the PTI founder spoke on his YouTube channel ahead of the FIA appearance.

The chief justice questioned if the clip conversation was admissible and insisted “You (FIA prosecutor) will also have to satisfy the court regarding this.”

Record related to Azam Khan's kidnapping case was too submitted to the court.

On January 30, a special court convicted Imran and Qureshi in a case related to the misuse of a diplomatic cypher during the final days of the PTI government in March 2022, and sentenced them to ten years in prison each under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923.

 

 


News Desk


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