A senior Pakistani lawyer representing Imran Khan and 16 others were rescued after they were briefly trapped in a malfunctioning elevator in the Islamabad High Court on Friday.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) counsel Latif Khosa hopped into the lift on the third floor of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after engaging in a heated exchange with Chief Justice Amer Farooq.
Farooq adjourned the hearing on jailed former prime minister Khan’s appeal against his conviction and sentence in the Toshakhana corruption case until Monday as the rival lawyer could not make it to the court due to illness.
However, the elevator got stuck due to an unknown malfunction, creating fears for the lives of all 17 people inside it.
According to a video clip, Khosa’s assistant lawyer, Suzane Jahan, is seen saying, “It has been more than 10 minutes. The lift has malfunctioned, and no one from the administration is coming. Khosa sahib and his legal lawyers — all are inside [the elevator]…I have informed the administration ten times. Everyone here knows about this [but] no one is taking action, and my boss is inside,” she said.
She went on to say, “Does this mean that now you will also kill lawyers by suffocating them? You already put [Imran] Khan behind bars, and you will also kill lawyers now?” On August 5, a sessions court in Islamabad convicted Khan, 70, in the case filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and sentenced him to three years in prison. The verdict meant he was disqualified from contesting general elections for five years.
Other video clips of the incident show lawyers pressing the elevator’s button with no success while people gathered on the scene called for help. A person is also seen holding an electric fan to enhance airflow towards the elevator.
Finally, the sordid incident ended after rescuers finally managed to open the elevator’s doors, and Khosa, along with the others, came out sweating but unscathed.
It has only been three months since the IHC moved into its new building.
Lawyers gathered around the PTI counsel and took him away from the IHC premises while chanting slogans against the government and in favour of the lawyers.
Later, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon told the media that the overloading of the lift was the likely cause of the mishap.
Earlier, Khosa pressed for conducting the hearing of the appeal by Khan against his conviction, but the panel of two judges refused and adjourned it.
The Toshakhana case was filed by ruling party lawmakers in 2022 in the ECP, alleging that Khan concealed the proceeds from the sale of state gifts.
The IHC has been hearing Khan’s appeal since August 22, and on Thursday adjourned the hearing until Friday.
The defence team has already completed the arguments.
The ECP first disqualified the former-cricketer-turned-politician and then filed a case of criminal proceedings in a sessions court, which convicted him and subsequently, Khan was sent to jail.
Khan is currently in Attock Jail, where he was lodged after his arrest following his conviction. He has also been disqualified for five years.