ISLAMABAD: The National Accou­n­t­a­bility Bureau (NAB) filed a fresh reference against former prime minister Imran Khan and seven others, including his wife, aides, and a real estate tycoon along with his son, in connection with the Al Qadir Trust case on Friday.

Mr Khan played a “pivotal role in illicit transfer of funds meant for the state of Pakistan into an account designated for the payment of land by Bahria Town, Karachi”, the reference alleged, claiming that despite being given multiple opportunities to justify and provide information, the accused deliberately, with mala fide intention, refused to give information on one pretext or another.

The ex-premier was initially arrested in the case earlier this year from the Islamabad High Court premises, but was released after the Supreme Court declared his arrest unlawful. He was re-arrested in Al Qadir Trust case on Nov 14 when he was already imprisoned in Adiala Jail in the cipher case. NAB was then given his custody on physical remand before he was remanded back to jail.

Besides him, others named in the reference are Bushra Bibi, her friend Farhat Shahzadi aka Farah Khan aka Farah Gogi, former special assistants to the premier Zulfiqar Bukhari and Mirza Shahzad Akbar, lawyer Ziaul Mustafa Nasim, and property tycoon Malik Riaz along with his son Ali Ahmed Riaz.

The NAB chairman has already issued arrest warrant for Mr Khan, Mr Bukhari, Mr Akbar, Ms Khan and Mr Nasim.

The trial of the accused will be conducted at Adiala Jail, after the federal cabinet recently accorded its approval.

Four-week trial begins

Meanwhile, the Special Court (Offi­c­ial Secrets Act) has hinted at concluding the cipher case trial against Mr Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi within four weeks, as the judge is set to commence proceedings afresh in Adiala jail on Saturday (today).

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) while noting loopholes in the previous jail trial process had declared it ‘illegal’ and vitiated the cipher case proceedings last month. Subse­quently, the special court issued an order on Nov 28 for conducting the jail trial afresh after completion of all legal formalities while keeping in view the IHC observations.

A day later, federal government after the cabinet’s approval, issued a notification and submitted it to the trial court.

Also, the jail authorities submitted an “affirmative response” regarding the jail trial.

“Now this trial will be conducted at Central Prison Rawalpindi in view of the order of this court dated November 28, 2023”, said Judge Abual Hasnat Muha­mmad Zulqarnain.

The judge noted that “since this is a direction case wherein the Hon’ble Islamabad High Court (IHC) Islamabad… has directed to conclude the trial within 04-weeks hence, further proceeding of the case shall be conducted at Central Prison Rawalpindi on December 2, 2023 (at 9:00am) regarding attendance of the accused persons as well as further proceedings.”

The counsel for Mr Khan earlier argued that a mere letter of the additional inspector general could not be the reason for holding the trial in jail, as it must be based on tangible intelligence report. The judge responded that the intelligence reports were annexed with the letter.

However, the judge assured him that media would be allowed to cover the trial.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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