Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan must be released from custody, court rules
Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan must be released from court and not re-arrested for at least two weeks, a court has ruled.
The 70-year-old opposition leader appeared before Islamabad High Court on Friday after being arrested Tuesday on corruption charges, which he denies.
Mr Khan’s arrest was ruled “invalid and unlawful” by the Supreme Court on Thursday, prompting a court hearing on whether he should remain in custody or not.
Lawyers for Mr Khan said the court had granted him a two-week bail and that as of now, he was “a free man.”
The former cricketer was brought to court amid a heavy police and military presence, with high tensions sparked by the former PM’s arrest.
The arrest triggered nationwide protests in which his supporters attacked military installations, burned vehicles, and ambulances and looted general stores in various parts of the country.
The violence drew condemnation from the government.
Supporters of Mr Khan clashed with police elsewhere in the city as roads were cleared for his convoy for his arrival to court.
Islamabad police have imposed an emergency order banning all gatherings in the city.
Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party have promised that thousands of will gather in Islamabad in solidarity with their leader in a “peaceful” protest.
His arrest earlier this week was ruled “invalid and unlawful" by the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The top court ordered him to appear before the Islamabad High Court for a hearing on his petition challenging the anti-corruption action against him.
Nearly 2,000 people have been arrested for violence since his detention on Tuesday and at least eight have been killed.
Mr Khan was arrested a day after the powerful military rebuked him for repeatedly accusing a senior officer of trying to engineer his assassination and the former armed forces chief of being behind his removal from power last year.
The army has warned Khan’s supporters that it will respond firmly if there are further attacks on its assets, saying in a statement on Wednesday that the violence at its installations was “pre-planned” and ordered by his party leadership.
Mr Khan’s party has insisted it has only called for peaceful protests.