Lahore, Pakistan, 18 March (EFE).- An Islamabad court on Saturday suspended a hearing into a case that former prime minister Imran Khan sold sate gifts during his term after clashes erupted between police and supporters of the cricketer-turned-politician.
The judge allowed Khan to return to his home due to rising tensions outside the Judicial Complex in Islamabad where pro-Khan supporters hurled stones at police who retaliated by firing tear gas, according to footage on social media.
“The situation as it is, the hearing and appearance cannot proceed that is why all those who have gathered here should disperse after marking attendance. There is no need for shelling or pelting, the hearing cannot be held today,” judge Zafar Iqbal was quoted as saying by the English language newspaper Dawn.
A new hearing has been slated for March, 30.
The clashes broke out after supporters of the former PM were blocked from entering the court by security forces.
The former premier and founder of Pakistan’s PTI party said in an audio message posted to social media that he had waited outside the Judicial Complex for 15 minutes and had attempted to access the premises amid a barrage of tear gas.
“They have erected control posts and it looks like they don’t want me to get it,” Khan added.
Khan traveled to Islamabad Saturday morning from his home with an entourage of supporters to mark his presence in the court, complying with judicial orders.
As a result of his presence, the court in Islamabad has canceled Khan’s arrest warrants, Dawn reported.
Police took advantage of Khan’s court visit to conduct raids of his home in the eastern city of Lahore.
Authorities were using teargas and water cannons to disperse the large crowd guarding the former prime minister’s residence in the eastern city of Lahore, according to images tweeted by PTI.
Khan has been accused of unlawfully selling gifts received during his term without registering them at a government depository where gifts from foreign dignitaries are kept.
Those willing to retain the gifts may do so by paying 50 percent of the value of the item assessed by the depository officials.
The leader also faces a spate of other charges including terrorism, rioting and abetment of violence.
He has avoided appearing in court in the past citing health problems and a lack of security after he suffered from gunshot wounds to both legs during an assassination attempt in November 2022.
The former ruler was removed from office in April last year through a vote of no confidence, which Khan blamed on a United States move to expel him from power.
He later claimed that it was former Pakistani Army Chief Qamar Bajwa who conspired with the opposition to oust him. EFE