RAWALPINDI: An accountability court on Friday deferred the indictment of former premier Imran Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi in GBP190 million corruption case till Feb 27, as the Islamabad High Court (IHC) is set to take up appeals against their conviction in Toshakhana and cipher cases on Feb 26.

The newly appointed judge, Nasir Javed Rana, who has rep­laced Judge Mohammad Bashir as he is retiring in a few weeks, resumed proceeding in Adiala Jail where the reference filed by the National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) against Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi is being heard.

Property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, Mirza Shehzad Akbar, and Zulfi Buk­hari are also among the suspects in this reference, but instead of joining the investigation and subsequent court proceedings, they absconded and were subsequently dec­lared proclaimed offenders.

At the makeshift courtroom, Mr Khan was wearing red sweater, with sky blue shirt and blue trouser when the matter was taken up for hearing.

Only a few media persons were allowed in the “sitting area”, which lacked proper seating arrangement, at some distance from the rostrum to witness the court proceeding. However, they could not properly hear the arguments.

When Barrister Salman Safdar, the counsel for Mr Khan, pointed it out to the judge, the latter suggested that he share details with the media at the end of the hearing.

The defence counsel said the prosecution in Toshakhana and cipher cases violated the right of fair trial of Mr Khan. The trial proceeding in the cipher case was struck down by the Islamabad High Court twice due to grave illegalities, he argued, while requesting the judge to conduct the proceeding in the GBP190mn case at par with other cases.

Judge Rana allowed Mr Khan to see a dentist in the jail after he apprised the judge that he was 70 years old and required some medical care. His lawyer pointed out that over the past seven months, Mr Khan had never sought any relief for medical grounds.

The former premier also sought permission for meeting his wife, Bushra Bibi. The judge granted the request.

‘Institutions collapsed’

Talking to the media persons, Mr Khan said the institutions like the judiciary and NAB had collapsed during the ‘selection’ of the government process. The ‘rigged’ elections were aimed at undermining his party position, he said, adding that efforts were being made to cover up massive rigging.

The PTI founder alleged that the former commissioner of Rawalpindi, Liaquat Ali Chattha, who levelled serious allegations against the chief election commissioner and chief justice, was tortured after being picked up in a Vigo vehicle and was forced to backtrack from the confessions about rigging in elections.

Objections to appeals removed

Meanwhile, the IHC has fixed the appeals of Mr Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Bushra Bibi against their conviction by the trial courts.

A division bench is set to hear the appeals challenging their conviction in Toshakhana and cipher cases on Monday.

As PTI leader Sardar Latif Khosa earlier told the media about filing of the appeals, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar rushed to the court office and hurriedly filed the appeals without finalising them.

The registrar office then raised administrative objections to the appeals considering that the legal team had filed the same ‘prematurely’ and contacted lead counsel Barrister Zafar.

The legal team later completed the requirements and the objections were finally removed.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2024

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