The State Security Court (SSC) on Tuesday began the trial of 54 people and entities implicated in the illegal production and smuggling of tobacco for sale in the local market.
The defendants in the 'tobacco case', include 29 individuals and 25 firms, and six of the suspects are still at large.
During a public session held under tight security and presided over by Chief military judge Col. Mohammad Afif, the court announced the start of proceedings and told the defense lawyers to abide by its rules.
Defense attorneys read out their opening statements regarding the legal proceedings and the investigations of the accused, arguing that the tobacco and customs cases are not within the SSC's jurisdiction, a challenge that was dismissed by the court.
The defendants are facing charges including accepting bribes, tax and customs evasion, committing acts that would change the state's economic status, money laundering and abuse of power.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges and the trial was adjourned until March 26.