Imran Khan’s trial within prison walls is “illegal” and “unconstitutional”, one of his lawyers has told Sky News.
It follows a court document, seen by Sky News, ordering an “open trial” for Pakistan’s former prime minister – despite it being held inside Adiala jail, near Islamabad.
But a lawyer for his political party PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), Hafiz Qaiser Hajvery, has said the trial is far from open.
“A trial in jail cannot be open. What we are seeing is unlawful,” he said. “This so-called ‘open’ trial is the killing of justice in Pakistan.
“It’s illegal, unconstitutional and violates human rights.”
Khan – who was the country’s prime minister from 2018 to April 2022 – has been held in Adiala jail since the end of September, for the alleged leaking of state secrets and a slew of other charges.
He denies the charges, and says they are a ploy from the government and military to keep him away from the upcoming general election, on 8 February.
The court order justifies the jail trial with reference to Mr Khan’s safety.
It states “threat assessments” of the 71-year-old “cannot be disregarded lightly”.
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Mr Hajvery, however, alleged this was a “fix” to “humiliate Imran Khan”.
The Islamabad High Court last week ruled that holding Khan’s trial in prison on security grounds was illegal – and ordered it restarted in an open court.
But despite the ruling, the court document today posits the jail trial “shall be in an open court” from Friday, with lawyers, some family members and “members of the public and all those, who wish to attend the trial proceedings”.
The key bit, Mr Hajvery told Sky News, is the caveat that comes next: “So far as they can be accommodated in the courtroom.
“There is no such thing as open court or a fair trial. Here in Pakistan there is no rule of law.
“Will the jail allow media representatives inside the prison? They have not so far.
“The court ordered the jail holding Imran Khan to present him at trial – but they did not.
“The High Court has categorically said there must be an open trial.”
Mr Hajvery added: “What we are seeing is a violation of a high court decision.”
The cipher charge at the centre of this is related to a classified cable sent to Islamabad by Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington early last year, which Khan is accused of making public.
At the time, Khan held up the alleged letter, claiming it was proof that he was being threatened and that his ousting was a US conspiracy allegedly executed by the military and the government in Pakistan – claims denied by both Washington and Pakistani officials.
Khan denies making the document public and says its contents appeared in the media from other sources.
Sky News has contacted Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights and Public Prosecution Department for comment.