Former prime minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison in the cipher case.
The verdict was pronounced by Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqernain of the Official Secrets Act special court after conducting proceedings in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
The judge said the prosecution had enough solid evidence to prove the crime.
Both the accused were present in the courtroom at the time of sentencing, and they refused to sign the statement questionnaire under Section 342 of CrPC. They said they would not sign the questionnaire in the absence of their lawyers.
The judge told them that the state attorneys for both accused were present in the courtroom. He instructed both accused to sign the questionnaire after careful consultation with their state counsel.
Imran and Shah Mahmood both said that in response to the questionnaires, they wanted to include some things themselves. Later, the former premier recorded a statement for an hour and 20 minutes.
The judge called both Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the rostrum quickly.
“I am coming quickly, but you’re the one who is in a hurry. We have to stay in jail,” the former PM remarked.
The judge then asked the two if they will sign the statement under Section 342. Imran Khan said he first wanted to know what it was.
“In keeping with the law, I am giving you an opportunity to answer the questions,” Judge Hasnat remarked.
Imran Khan said he wanted to dictate his response himself. “It is good that you want to dictate your own response,” the judge added.
After Imran Khan recorded his statement, the judge asked: “Khan sahib! I have a simple question for you, where is the cipher?”
He replied that he has said the same thing in his statement that he did not know, adding that the cipher was in his office.
“Khan sahib! Shah Mahmood Qureshi sahib! Look at me! I sentence you to 10 years in prison each,” the judge pronounced.
The verdict was pronounced before Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s statement was recorded.
After pronouncing the verdict, Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain left the court. After the sentence was pronounced, Imran Khan kept smiling, as per media reports.
What is cipher case?
This case revolves around a diplomatic cable allegedly mishandled by Imran Khan, with claims suggesting it contained a threat from the United States to remove him from office.
The former premier’s claims triggered a controversy following Khan’s assertions of a conspiracy against him. The special court recently resumed the cipher trial at Adiala district jail, indicting Imran and Qureshi for the second time on December 13.