Pakistan: Former PM Imran Khan sentenced 14 years in jail for corruption

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has been sentenced to 14 years in jail in a corruption case, just a day after receiving a 10-year sentence for leaking state secrets. Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, has also been handed a 14-year sentence in the case, known as Toshakhana, which involves allegations of illegally selling state gifts. Both individuals have been banned from holding political office for 10 years.

The sentence, delivered at a hearing in the Rawalpindi prison where Khan, 71, is held, adds to his legal troubles. He has been in jail since August and faces over 100 different charges. The judge denied Khan’s lawyers’ request to cross-examine witnesses and his lawyers were absent when the sentence was given.

Khan questioned the apparent rush to conclude the case, stating, “Why are you in a hurry to announce the verdict? I have not even recorded my final statement.” The verdict was delivered without Khan or Bibi present, raising concerns about due process.

Bibi surrendered to authorities at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on the same day the Toshakhana verdict was issued. The previous day, a special court found Khan guilty of leaking state secrets related to a diplomatic cable, a verdict he described as a sham.

The timing of the consecutive convictions, just a week before Pakistan’s general election, is significant. Although Khan is already banned from running, he remains popular among voters. This is Khan’s second sentencing in the Toshakhana case, which involves allegations of buying gifts at low prices and selling them for undisclosed profits.

The anti-corruption watchdog accused Khan and his wife of receiving 108 gifts from heads of state, some worth millions, during his term as prime minister, and illegally keeping or selling many of them. The judge issued a more severe sentence on Wednesday, including a collective fine of 787 million rupees ($2.8 million).

Khan, toppled from power in 2022, claims the cases against him are politically motivated. He has openly criticized the country’s military, alleging their involvement in orchestrating his imprisonment to prevent him from running in elections. His party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has also faced harassment and intimidation, with senior leadership imprisoned or pressured to leave the party, and restrictions on campaigning and political rallies leading up to the election. PTI issued a statement describing Khan and Bibi’s trials as “yet another kangaroo trial in which no right to defence was given to both,” highlighting concerns about the erosion of legal norms in Pakistan.

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