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Imran gets bail in £190 million case

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday accepted PTI founder Imran Khan’s plea, granting him bail in the £190 million case; however, he will have to stay in jail to serve time in two other cases.

The court asked the PTI founder to submit a surety bond of Rs1 million in order to secure bail.

However, the order will not result in the ex-premier’s release from Adiala jail since his sentences in the Iddat and cypher cases are yet to be suspended.

A day earlier, a two-member bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, reserved the ruling on Imran’s bail plea following the completion of arguments presented by both sides.

Amjad Parvez, the special prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), contended that the funds should have been remitted to the government of Pakistan. “The Supreme Court clearly stated in its verdict that the funds were mistakenly deposited into the Supreme Court’s account. This act of secrecy constitutes a significant deception,” Parvez asserted.

Concluding his arguments, Parvez urged the court to expedite the trial proceedings rather than considering bail at this stage.

Responding to the prosecution’s claims, Imran Khan’s lawyer, Sardar Latif Khosa, challenged the allegations, particularly those made by former aide Shahzad Akbar. Khosa questioned why Imran Khan was being held accountable for matters beyond his control.

Khosa highlighted that a witness of NAB acknowledged the absence of Imran Khan’s signature and affirmed that no funds were directed to the PTI founder’s account or that of his wife, Bushra Bibi.

“Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi did not derive any personal benefit from these transactions,” Khosa emphasised.

The case revolves around allegations of corruption and abuse of authority linked to a financial settlement during the PTI’s tenure, which reportedly incurred a £190 million loss to the national exchequer.

According to the court order, the investigation in the matter was complete and the “continued incarceration” of the petitioner, Imran, would not serve any purpose.

It said that the prosecution had expressed apprehension that Imran might tamper with the record or influence the trial being a political person, however, there was nothing on record which justified the referred apprehension.

“The instant petition is allowed and petitioner is admitted to bail after arrest in the afore-mentioned reference subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs1m,” it said.

It added that the observations made were tentative and would not prejudice the trial court while deciding the reference against Imran.

Imran and his wife Bushra Bibi were indicted in the case by a Rawalpindi accountability court in February.

Read NAB drops 10 witnesses in £190m case

NAB reference

The reference said the “accused (…) were given multiple opportunities to justify and provide information, but they deliberately, with mala fide intention, refused to provide the information on one or the other pretext.

“Furthermore, it is established through their responses that they have nothing in their defence to rebut the allegations. Thus, they all have committed an offence” under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

It added that the investigation proceedings and findings so far “established that accused persons with the connivance of each other have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices” as defined under the NAO.

Also, a trial court on Wednesday postponed hearing of the £190 million reference against former prime minister Imran Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi until May 17 without any proceedings. Interestingly, the capital’s high court also granted bail to the couple in the same case on Wednesday.

The accountability court — which is hearing the corruption case inside Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail where both Imran and Bushra are lodged—deferred the hearing in light of security concerns raised by the jail administration.

In a letter, the jail superintendent, Asad Warraich, informed Islamabad Accountability Court-I Judge Nasir Javed Rana that Adiala is one of the most sensitive prisons in Punjab, currently housing several times its capacity.

Adiala Jail has a capacity for 2,174 inmates, but it currently holds around 7,000 prisoners, including inmates convicted of terrorism and blasphemy. Additionally, the jail houses politically significant prisoners whose security is of utmost importance.

In his letter, the jail superintendent further mentioned that on May 12, the Punjab government’s Home Department informed jail officials in writing that banned organizations might target four of Punjab’s highly sensitive jails: Mianwali Jail, Dera Ghazi Khan Jail, Attock Jail, and Adiala Jail.

Following this information, security drills were conducted to ensure the prison’s safety, and a three-day ban on visits was imposed. All unauthorized persons and vehicles have been completely barred from entering Adiala Jail.

Superintendent Warraich also noted that security operations were carried out in the residential areas surrounding the jail, including sweeps by police and other law enforcement agencies to search for any explosive materials.

The security clearance process for all local residents around the jail was reiterated. Enhanced screening measures for those entering the jail have been implemented, and emergency drills were conducted to build the capacity of the jail staff.

In his letter, the superintendent requested that, due to the ongoing jail trial of Imran Khan at Adiala Jail and the current security threats, the hearing be postponed to the following week to avoid any risks.

Judge Nasir Javed Rana, considering the superintendent’s letter, approved the request and postponed the hearing of the £190 million case to May 17 without any proceedings.

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