33 Imran Khan supporters handed over to Army to face trials in military courts

At least 22 supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan have been handed over to the Army to face trial in the military courts. They have been charged with trespassing on and attacking sensitive installations of the Armed forces, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday.

The accused are among the thousands detained since the violent protests erupted across Pakistan after Imran Khan’s arrest in a corruption case. Imran Khan was arrested inside the Islamabad High Court, triggering violence and arson across the country.

The political unrest has intensified even as Pakistan is going through the most severe economic crisis in decades. Record-high inflation, sluggish economic growth, and concerns of a possible default on external debts loom as the International Monetary Fund delays the disbursements.

“The accused who are being handed over to the military are those who trespassed and entered very sensitive defence installations,” the minister said in a press conference. The protesters allegedly damaged or stole important equipment, computers and other sources of data collection, the minister said.

Attacking Imran Khan, the minister said the former prime minister was the architect of the mess. When asked if Imran Khan would also be tried in a military court, the minister said, “…as far as my own assessment and the evidence we have… this man is the architect of all this mess and planning, so yes he comes under this category.”

Rights groups have raised concerns over military trials of civilians, saying they cannot ensure a fair trial. Such courts are closed to outsiders and the media.

The minister said after a verdict from the military courts the accused would have a right to appeal to a high court and then the Supreme Court.

(With agency inputs)

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Updated: 26 May 2023, 06:31 PM IST

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