Ex-Pak PM Imran Khan sentenced to 3 years in prison in Toshakhana corruption case; PTI to challenge sentence
Khan, 70, was convicted in the Toshakhana case which was filed last year on the complaint of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which had earlier disqualified him in the same case.
A court in Pakistan on Saturday sentenced Imran Khan to three years in prison in a corruption case in which the embattled former prime minister is accused of profiting from selling expensive state gifts when he was in power.
Additional Judge Humayun Dilawar of the Islamabad-based district and sessions judge also imposed Rs100,000 fine on Khan, adding that he would be kept in jail for another six months if failed to pay the fine.
Khan, 70, was convicted in the Toshakhana case which was filed last year on the complaint of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which had earlier disqualified him in the same case.
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The verdict came a day after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) set aside a session court's verdict to uphold the maintainability of the Toshakhana case for criminal proceedings against Khan.
The Toshakhana issue over the sale of state gifts received by the former cricketer-turned-politician became a major issue in national politics after the ECP disqualified Khan on October 21, 2022, for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.
The Toshakhana is a department under the Cabinet Division that stores gifts given to rulers and government officials by heads of other governments and foreign dignitaries.
Khan bought some of the gifts, including a precious watch, and sold the same for profit.
Khan Asks Supporters Not to Sit Silent
Following his arrest and being sentenced to three years in prison and disqualified from politics for five years, a video message of the former prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has surfaced on social media in which he said that his arrest was expected.
In the video, which he recorded before his arrest, Imran Khan said that when his video message would reach everyone (PTI workers and supporters), he would be arrested.
"My arrest was expected and I recorded this message before my arrest. It is one more step in fulfilling London Plan but I want my party workers to remain peaceful, steadfast and strong."
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman took to his official Twitter handle and posted a video asking his supporters "not to sit silent" after his arrest.
"By the time this video message will reach you, I would be arrested and in Jail...which is why I have a request...an appeal to all of you is that you should not sit at home in silence. These earnest efforts of mine are not for me but for my people, my community..for you (PTI supporters)...I am doing it for you. I am doing it for the good fortune of your children," Imran Khan said in his video.
"If you will not stand for your rights, you will live a life of slavery...and mind you slaves do not have a life...," he added.
PTI to challenge sentence
The sentencing and arrest of Imran Khan in the Toshakhana corruption case is "politically motivated", his close aide and former Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday, asserting that the party will challenge the verdict and use all legal means to defend the ex-prime minister.
Khan, 70, was arrested from his Zaman Park home in Lahore on Saturday shortly after an Islamabad trial court found him guilty of “corrupt practices” in the Toshakhana case and sentenced him to three years in prison.
The verdict, issued by Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar, comes as a blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief who has been arrested for the second time in three months.
PTI Vice Chairman Qureshi rejected the conviction and subsequent arrest of Khan, saying the "much-feared" ruling was state-sanctioned and premeditated.
"I reject the court's verdict and believe it is a politically motivated and predetermined decision which was already expected," he told Geo News.
The case alleges that Khan “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana, a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept, during his time as the prime minister and proceeds from their reported sales.
Qureshi said he believed that the requirements of justice were not met.
"PTI will use its right to challenge the decision by knocking on the doors of the higher judiciary. We will defend Imran Khan with all legal means. We will opt for all legal ways to defend him," the former foreign minister said.
Qureshi said the party's core committee will issue its next line of action after the meeting.
Noting that the decision was taken in haste and announced on the weekend, he also questioned the immediate arrest of Khan by Lahore police that followed.
"It is a cause of concern that as the verdict is just being announced and the news was aired on television, the police arrived at Zaman Park to take Imran Khan in. Were the police already informed about the nature and the decision?" he asked.
"The criteria of justice are impartiality and adequate representation, and presenting witnesses before the jury. Were all these provided to his party head?
"Was there not anyone in the whole judiciary, except Justice Humayun Dilawar who can fulfil the requirements of justice?" he said.
Khan is accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs 140 million (USD 635,000).
According to a report, Khan, during his tenure as prime minister, went away with seven wrist watches worth Rs 96.6 million, landing the second spot across all three parties in terms of assessed value of watches retained.
He paid Rs 21 million to procure these watches, five of which were Rolex and one Graff, the report said.
The Election Commission of Pakistan on October 21 last year, disqualified the former prime minister in the Toshakhana case for making "false statements and incorrect declaration".
In May, a trial court rejected Imran Khan's petition challenging the maintainability of the case and indicted the PTI chief, who denied all the allegations of misdeclaration of gifts.
Khan challenged the trial court's decision before the IHC, which sent the case back to the trial court for re-examination.
On July 8, the trial court concluded that the ECP's petition was maintainable and proceeded further against the former premier who then approached the Supreme Court for relief.
Khan and his wife Bushra's bails extended
A court in Pakistan has extended interim bail of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi's in the National Crime Agency (NCA) 190 million Pounds scandal, ARY News reported on Saturday.
The Accountability Court No.1 Islamabad Judge Muhammad Bashir heard the case and extended the interim bail till August 10 as final arguments were not given in the case due to Khan's arrest in the Toshakhana case today.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan's lawyer Khawaja Haris and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar appeared before the court.
The scandal is all about the alleged gain of hundreds of canals of land in the name of Al Qadir University Trust, which reportedly caused a loss of 190 million pounds to the national exchequer.
As per the charges, the former prime minister and other accused allegedly adjusted Rs 50 billion — 190 million pounds at the time — sent by Britain's NCA to the government, according to ARY News.Earlier, the bail was extended till July 31.
(With inputs from ANI)