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Thursday April 18, 2024

Appeals against cipher convictions: Azam Khan’s statement not reliable after he changed it, Imran’s lawyer tells IHC

Salman Safdar said that call-up notices were issued Azam Khan for seventeen months to join the inquiry

By Our Correspondent
April 03, 2024
Azam Khan, former principal secretary to ex-prime minister Imran Khan. — Facebook/Fans of Azam Khan/File
Azam Khan, former principal secretary to ex-prime minister Imran Khan. — Facebook/Fans of Azam Khan/File 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan’s counsel Salman Safdar has told the Islamabad High Court that the former prime minister’s principal secretary Azam Khan changed his statement and his statement should not therefore be relied upon.

He said during a hearing on Tuesday that Azam Khan recorded his statement before the magistrate not as a witness but as an accused, which was not on oath; therefore, his statement has no value in the eyes of the law.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq remarked that the statement of the witness was recorded before the court after it was recorded before a magistrate and then cross-examined, and in such situation what the legal status of statement would be.

Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb heard the appeals against the conviction of the PTI founder and Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the cipher case.

Barrister Salman Safdar said that there was a difference between the statement of witness Azam Khan before the investigating officer and the magistrate, and deviation from the old statement goes in favour of the accused.

The chief justice inquired what the witness said about the prosecution’s case that the cipher was twisted. Salman Safdar said witness Azam Khan did not say that the PTI founder deliberately lost the cipher copy but asked the military secretary to search for it.

He said that according to the FIR, the paper was waved in a public gathering on March 27 and the conspiracy was hatched in a meeting on March 28 and later on the prosecution did not insist on this point.

He said the prosecution later dropped the charge in the FIR. He said Azam Khan was made an accused in the FIR, his role as an accused was mentioned, and he was accused of taking meeting minutes and being a part of the conspiracy.

The chief justice remarked that Azam Khan is not named in the FIR as accused, and if he was made an accused in the initial investigation, he was not made an accused in the charge sheet. The CJ observed that maybe there was a role in the facts, but it does not mean that Azam Khan was an accused.

Salman Safdar said that call-up notices were issued Azam Khan for seventeen months to join the inquiry. Later, he was abducted and then after the registration of the FIR, he came back the next day and recorded his statement without obtaining bail.

He said that after recording the statement before the investigating officer, Azam Khan also recorded his statement to the magistrate on the same day. He said the magistrate recorded the statement and wrote in the order sheet that the accused was produced.

The chief justice inquired if Azam Khan was not arrested when the statement was recorded on August 16.

Salman Safdar said that the magistrate recorded the statement and told Azam Khan that he will not be handed over to the authorities, which means that he recorded his statement not as a witness but as an accused and the statement before the magistrate was not on oath.

He said that when a co-accused wants to give a statement, the co-accused should be given a notice; however, the notice was not issued to other co-accused.

Salman Safdar said that FIA technical analyst Anisur Rehman made a report that Pakistan’s relations with some countries deteriorated after the cipher.

He said that when the government makes a case, it is expected that all the documents should be made available but the documents which could have gone in favour of the accused were not brought on record.

The chief justice said that all judges of the IHC received letters which were stated to be containing anthrax and basically judges were threatened and the same was the reason that court proceedings were initiated with some delay.