ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared on Thursday (May 11) the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan “invalid”, in a ruling that came two days after his detention sparked deadly clashes and huge protests nationwide.
Khan was ordered to remain in the custody of the court under police protection for his own safety until his appearance at another court hearing on Friday.
“Your arrest was invalid so the whole process needs to be backtracked,” Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial told Khan at the hearing in the capital Islamabad.
“What we propose is that Islamabad police need to provide security, and he (Khan) will provide a list of his immediate family members and lawyers that should meet him at police lines headquarters,” said Bandial.
He added that the headquarters, where Khan was taken into custody following his arrest, should instead be treated as a “residence”.
Bandial denied Khan’s request to return to his farm house on the outskirts of Islamabad.
“The court has ordered that he will remain in the custody of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and that he can meet and consult his friends and lawyers during his stay there,” Khan’s lawyer, Babar Awan, told reporters.
Pakistan’s top judge had ordered police to bring Khan before him in response to a petition by his political party challenging his arrest on Tuesday on corruption charges.
On Thursday, Khan told the apex court he had been “treated like a terrorist”.
Several thousand supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have for two days rampaged through cities around the country, setting fire to buildings and blocking roads.
At least nine people have died in the unrest, police and hospitals said.
Hundreds of police officers have been injured and more than 2,000 people arrested, mostly in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, police added.
At least eight officials from PTI’s central leadership accused of orchestrating the protests were also detained, Islamabad police said.
Security forces have responded with tear gas and water cannon to quell the crowds and on Thursday came equipped with batons and riot shields.
Supporters turning up to a protest venue in Karachi were swiftly rounded up while in Islamabad police beat handcuffed PTI supporters, AFP journalists saw.
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