Islamabad, Pakistan – A court in the Pakistani capital Islamabad has accepted former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s written apology for comments he made against a female judge in August, relieving him of a contempt case.
The five-member bench, led by Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah, expressed its satisfaction with the apology on Monday, adding that the verdict was unanimous.
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Khan was charged with contempt of court following a speech he made at a public rally in Islamabad on August 20, during which he threatened “action” against Judge Zeba Chaudhry and senior Islamabad police officials for arresting his top aide Shahbaz Gill, whom he accused police of torturing in custody.
Gill was charged with attempting to incite a mutiny in Pakistan’s powerful military after remarks made on a TV show, an allegation Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party denies.
Khan had initially refused to apologise for his comments but did so eventually, in the last hearing on September 22.
If he had been convicted, he could have been disqualified from running in the next election, which is scheduled for October next year.
Khan still has another case before the courts regarding the same comments in the August speech, for which he was granted bail on Sunday after an arrest warrant was issued a day before. He has been charged under various sections of Pakistan Penal Code for the same speech.
He had also been charged under the country’s terrorism laws for the August 20 speech, but a court dropped the charges last month. The IHC had said Khan’s comments did not warrant charges under the harsh Anti-Terrorism Act, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and even capital punishment.
Khan’s government was toppled via a parliamentary vote of no confidence in April this year and since then he has been conducting rallies across the country, demanding early elections.
He has also alleged a US-led foreign regime change conspiracy behind the removal of his government, which both US and Pakistani officials have denied.