Pakistan’s Imran Khan jailed for three years over illegal sale of state gifts

Khan was accused of buying and selling gifts in state possession worth more than £390,300

Arpan Rai
Saturday 05 August 2023 15:34 BST
Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan appears in the Supreme Court in Islamabad last month
Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan appears in the Supreme Court in Islamabad last month (AFP/Getty)

A trial court in Pakistan has sentenced former prime minister Imran Khan to jail for three years on charges of illegally selling state gifts, stating that the accusations against the prominent leader were proven.

Khan was arrested immediately after the court sentence in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday by the Pakistan police.

The Islamabad trial court has also disqualified him from politics for five years, imposing a ban on his political activities.

The opposition leader has also been fined 100,000 Pakistani rupees (£278) by the trial court, which was directed to hear the case on the orders of the Pakistan High Court.

Khan’s residence in Lahore was surrounded by the police after the verdict was announced, reported local media and witnesses.

Khan, the leading opposition face in Pakistan and the chief of the major national party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is facing more than 150 cases in the country as he continues to target the military and the current administration.

The cricketer-turned-politician has been accused of misusing his prime ministerial tenure to buy and sell gifts in state possession that his office received during foreign visits from 2018 to 2022.

The gifts, worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees (£390,357), included watches given by a royal family, according to government officials who have alleged that Khan’s aides sold the assets in Dubai.

His party has already filed an appeal in the country’s Supreme Court over the district court order, a statement by PTI officials read.

Condemning the court’s order, PTI shared a video of Khan asking the “alive” nation to “not accept slavery” and said that Khan did not resist arrest attempts.

“The decision of the Kangaroo Court of Dilawar [additional district and sessions judge Humayun Dilawar] was not yet received by anyone in the court, but the Lahore Police was already there to kidnap the chairman Tehreek-e-Insaf. Chairman Imran Khan did not resist. Every process from the beginning of the case to the trial and from the trial to the abduction is illegal,” it said in a statement on its official social media account.

In a prerecorded video, shared on his social media, Mr Khan told his supporters: “I have only one appeal: don’t sit at home silently.”

On Friday, the trial over the “Toshakhana case” was halted on the directions of the High Court which asked the lower court to check whether a legal complaint filed by Pakistan’s election commission, as part of an enquiry against Khan, constituted a criminal proceeding, his lawyer Naeem Panjhuta said.

The first inquiry into the case was conducted by the country’s election commission, which found the 70-year-old politician guilty of unlawfully selling state gifts.

According to Khan’s legal team, after his arrest in Lahore, he was flown to Islamabad via helicopter to begin serving his sentence.

Legal experts have said a guilty verdict can exclude Khan from national elections that are due to be held by November and severely impact his political career as he looks to make a comeback in the top role.

Meanwhile, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the vice-chairman of PTI, will lead the party in Khan’s absence.

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