ISLAMABAD: A district judge in Islamabad has ordered that ex-premier Imran Khan’s close aide, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, be jailed on judicial remand for 14 days in a case involving charges of sedition, among others, filed by the country's election regulator.
The former information minister was arrested in Lahore last Wednesday after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) lodged a complaint with Islamabad police saying the leader of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had threatened members of the regulator as well as their families and made remarks in a TV interview that were tantamount to inciting violence against them.
“He [Fawad Hussain] is remanded to judicial custody,” Magistrate Waqas Ahmad Raja said in a short order, rejecting the prosecution’s plea for an extension in Hussain's physical remand.
Police were granted two-day physical remand of the PTI leader on Saturday to carry out a photogrammetry test and recover his laptop and mobile phone for forensic analysis.
On Sunday, Hussain was taken to Lahore for the test which the prosecution said was mandatory to complete the investigation.
The magistrate on Monday asked what the need was for the photogrammetry test in such a case and the prosecution failed to provide an answer that satisfied the judge.
Photogrammetry can be a very powerful tool in forensic analysis and is often useful to get an accurate 3D reconstruction of an accident or crime scene, especially in cases where position, distance and perspective are important.
“I have been on the road for the last 48 hours,” Hussain told the judge. “I haven’t gotten enough sleep,” he added, referring to his journey to Lahore and back for the photogrammetry test.
“The police were under special instructions to take me [to Lahore] in the police van. I have slept only two and a half hours in the last six days," he added.
Hussain's counsel, advocate Babar Awan, said the accused had already acknowledged his statement during the TV appearance.
“Fawad Chaudhry says he stands by his statement,” Awan told the court. “He has categorically announced that he would not surrender. He is the first accused who is accepting his statement.”
The judge rejected the prosecution's plea for an extension in Hussain's physical remand and sent him to a judicial lockup for 14 days. The judge also allowed Hussain’s family to meet him in the lockup at the Islamabad district court’s premises.
The PTI leader’s legal team is pursuing a bail petition in the district court for his release.
During the hearing on Monday, which took place in a packed courtroom amid heavy deployment of police, the magistrate ordered police officials to remove Hussain's handcuffs.
PTI supporters and leaders chanted slogans outside the court's premises, demanding Hussain's release in what they described as a "shady case."