A Pakistan High Court on Thursday granted protective bail to former premier Imran Khan in a case registered against him for the murder of a senior lawyer and reserved its verdict on bail petitions filed by Khan in eight other cases.
Mr. Khan, 70, was named in the killing of Supreme Court lawyer Abdul Razzaq Shar, who was shot dead in Quetta on June 6 by unknown gunmen.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), where a division bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the case.
Mr. Shar’s son accused his father was killed at Khan's behest as the lawyer had filed a case against the former premier in the Balochistan High Court.
The federal government and Mr. Khan's PTI party had traded blame over the incident, with both sides accusing the other of having a role in the killing.
After an initial argument, the bench granted Mr. Khan a two-week protective bail.
A video posted on his party's official Twitter account showed the PTI chief's black SUV entering the premises of the court as his security personnel stood guard with bulletproof shields.
Earlier, Mr. Khan travelled from Lahore to Islamabad, where the former cricketer-turned-politician was scheduled to appear for his bail petitions in over a dozen cases linked to violent protests after his arrest on May 9 and the Toshakhana graft case. The PTI chief also filed a petition in the IHC seeking bail in the case of Shar's murder.
Separately, IHC Chief Justice Farooq conducted the hearing on eight pleas, of which six were linked to the May 9 violence and one each pertaining to attempted murder and levelling allegations against top officers of state institutions.
Later, Justice Farooq reserved the verdict on the bail petitions filed by Mr. Khan in the eight cases.
After attending hearings at the IHC, the former premier reached the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) for multiple hearings. He is expected to appear before a district court seeking pre-arrest bail in a first information report (FIR) related to the alleged fraud in the sale of Toshakhana gifts, which was registered on June 6.
He is also expected to appear before an anti-terrorism court in 10 cases related to violating Section 144 and threatening a female judge.
Strict security measures were taken by police on the PTI chief's appearance in the IHC and the judicial complex. Earlier in the day, the FJC registrar permitted him to enter the court premises in his vehicle.
In the request, Mr. Khan said it was crucial for him to have access to his vehicle within court premises to “ensure safety and minimise potential risk during the attendance”.
The Toshakhana is a department responsible for storing gifts and other precious items given by foreign officials to Pakistani public officials.
Mr. Khan is accused of “deliberately" concealing details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana during his time as prime minister and proceeds from their reported sales.
Mr. Khan has faced a number of legal issues over his retention of gifts. The issue also led to his previous disqualification by the electoral body. Last month, the PTI chief was indicted in the case.
Paramilitary personnel arrested Mr. Khan from the Islamabad High Court premises on May 9. The arrest triggered unrest in Pakistan, leading to several deaths and dozens of military and state installations being destroyed by the angry PTI protesters.
Scores of cases have been filed against Mr. Khan since he was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a U.S.-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.