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Pakistan: Imran Khan Sentenced to 3 Years for Corruption

The former prime minister of Pakistan has been found guilty in a case involving state gifts. The ruling could spell the end of his ambitions to retake power.

A court in Pakistan has found former Prime Minister Imran Khan guilty of graft and has sentenced him to three years in prison, according to state TV.

“His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt,” judge Humayun Dilawar wrote in his ruling. “He has been found guilty of corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from national exchequer willfully and intentionally.”

The court found him guilty of selling and lying about receiving state gifts worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($635,000, €576,000), during his tenure as prime minister from 2018 to 2022.

Khan’s lawyer Intazar Hussain told the Reuters news agency that he had been arrested and taken from his residence in the eastern city of Lahore. He will be imprisoned in the central jail in Adyala, Rawalpindi, a court order said.

Following his detention, Khan urged his supporters “to remain peaceful, steadfast and strong,” in an address that was pre-recorded as he “expected” to be arrested.

Hopes of return to helm hanging by a thread

The conviction could end Khan’s chances of standing in national elections that are due to be held later this year. 

Khan is the most prominent political challenger to incumbent Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif.

The election later this year could be postponed by work on a new census. Sharif has been accused of attempting to keep his caretaker government in power as long as possible as Khan’s support rises. 

Khan has denied the criminal charges against him.

Last month Khan predicted his opponents would imprison him eventually, saying “sooner or later they will put me in jail,” adding that he welcomed fresh elections, but wondered whether his party would be allowed to contest them.

Khan is a critic of Pakistan’s powerful military, and believes the army aims to crack down on his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. The military has claimed that it is a neutral actor in Pakistani politics. 

‘Biased decision,’ says PTI

“This is a biased decision by the court and the decision is the worst example of political revenge and engineering,”  PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan told DW’s Islamabad correspondent Haroon Janjua. “It has been challenged in the Supreme Court. Through this case, another black mark was placed on the forehead of the justice system of Pakistan.”

“The nation will never accept such a conspiracy and revenge attempt against the most popular and reliable political leader of the country,” Hasan added. 

Pakistani Minister of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Shazia Marri, hit back, telling DW, “We have never desired for our political opponents to be victimized but law must be the same for all. If he thinks he’s innocent he can take the legal course.”

Marri added that Khan had been “defying legal procedures, not appearing before legal forums and building a falsehood to hide from legal consequences of his actions.”

Earlier on Saturday, in a statement, Khan’s PTI party said it had already filed an appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

More than 150 cases have been filed against Khan since a no-confidence vote ousted him in April last year. 

Khan’s legal team said: “It’s important to mention there was no chance given to present witnesses, neither was time allotted to round up arguments.”

Source : DW News