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33 pro-Imran protesters handed over for trial in military courts

May 27, 2023 00:00:00

ISLAMABAD, May 26 (Reuters): Thirty-three supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan have been handed over to the army to face trial in military courts on charges of attacking armed forces' installations, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday.

The 33 accused are among the thousands detained since Khan's May 9 arrest sparked violent protests across Pakistan. Those handed over to army authorities are accused of trespassing on and vandalising sensitive military installations, Sanaullah said.

Khan was arrested on graft charges, which he denies. While he was subsequently released on bail, his confrontation with the country's powerful generals has escalated.

The political unrest has worsened as Pakistan faces its worst economic crisis in decades. Inflation is at record highs, economic growth is anaemic, and there are fears that the country could default on external debts unless the International Monetary Fund unlocks delayed disbursements.

"The accused who are being handed over to the military are those who trespassed and entered very sensitive defence installations," Sanaullah told a press conference in Islamabad. He said that evidence suggested the protesters damaged or stole important equipment, computers and other sources of data collection.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan government has barred former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife among at least 80 people from leaving the country, The Indian Express reports.

Khan and several top leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party are facing cases following the violence after he was arrested on May 9 in a corruption case.

"The federal government has decided to add the names of 80 people, including PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi, to the no-fly list," the Pakistan's Samaa News channel reported.

However, there was no official confirmation on the development from Khan's party.

In addition to Khan and Bushra, those included in the no-fly list and barred from travelling abroad include PTI leaders Murad Saeed, Maleeka Bukhari, Fawad Chaudhry and Hammad Azhar, Qasim Suri, Asad Qaiser, Yasmin Rashid and Mian Aslam, the channel said. Fawad Chaudhry has already quit the party but his name has been listed among those who cannot fly out of Pakistan.

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