Pakistan: Court acquits Imran Khan and his party leaders in vandalism case

Islamabad High Court will hear appeals against conviction of Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in £190M NCA settlement reference on May 21


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Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. — Photo: Reuters file
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. — Photo: Reuters file

Published: Mon 20 May 2024, 9:11 PM

The sessions court in Islamabad on Monday acquitted former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and others in the Azadi March vandalism case, Pakistan-based ARY News reported. Judicial Magistrate Mureed Abbas Khan announced the reserved verdict.

The people who have been acquitted alongside Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan were other prominent PTI leaders Zartaj Gul, Ali Nawaz Awan, Saifullah Niazi, Faisal Javed, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Qasim Suri, Raja Khurram Nawaz, Shireen Mazari, Asad Umar and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmad.

During the court hearing, Imran Khan's lawyer Naeem Panjotha said that the FIR had been registered by an unauthorised person, according to ARY News report. He stated that the authority to register the case rested only with the person who imposed Section 144.

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Panjotha said that FIRs were filed against peaceful protesters and 19 cases of the same nature were registered against Imran Khan in different police stations. He urged the court to acquit the PTI founders as the allegations made against him were baseless.

After hearing the arguments, the court reserved the verdict on the acquittal pleas. Earlier in 2022, vandalism cases were lodged by the Karachi Company police against Imran Khan, lawmaker Zartaj Gul, former PTI leader Asad Umar, Faisal Javed, Ali Nawaz Awan and Saifullah Niazi in connection with the Azadi March.

On May 15, Islamabad High Court granted bail to Imran Khan in the £190 million National Crime Agency (NCA) settlement reference, according to ARY News report.

Last week, the Islamabad High Court has fixed the hearing of appeals against the conviction of Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for May 21.

According to details, a two-member bench comprising Pakistan's Chief Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb will hear the pleas. Previously, the hearing was adjourned on May 15 due to the cancellation of the cause list.

The FIA Special Prosecutor, Hafiz Hamad Ali Shah, is expected to complete his arguments during the court's next hearing. Following the completion of the prosecution's arguments, Imran Khan will present his defence arguments.

Earlier, Khan filed pleas in the Islamabad High Court against convictions in the cypher and Toshakhana case, ARY News reported.

On January 30, a special court hearing cipher case handed a 10-year jail term, each, to Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The two leaders were accused of conspiracy to misuse the contents of the cypher to fulfill nefarious purposes.

In its verdict, the court said the prosecution had enough evidence to prove the charges against Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi.


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