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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 27 February 2024

Imran Khan arrested after Pakistan court sentences ex-prime minister to three years in jail

Former Pakistan Prime Minister was taken into custody by police from his home in the eastern city of Lahore soon after the court decision was announced in Islamabad

New York Times News Service Islamabad Published 06.08.23, 08:14 AM
Imran Khan.

Imran Khan. File photo

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested on Saturday after a trial court sentenced him to three years in prison, a verdict that will most likely end his chances to contest the upcoming general election.

Khan was taken into custody by police from his home in the eastern city of Lahore soon after the court decision was announced in Islamabad.

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He was found guilty of hiding assets after illegally selling state gifts.

“The allegations against Khan are proven,” said Humayun Dilawar, the judge who announced the verdict in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.

The court also imposed a fine of around $355.

The case is related to an inquiry by the country’s election commission, which found last October that Khan had illegally sold gifts given to him by other countries when he was Prime Minister and concealed the profits from the authorities.

Khan has denied any wrongdoing.

He and his lawyers had accused the judge of bias and sought to have the case transferred to another judge. They are likely to appeal.

In a statement, Khan’s political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, rejected the verdict, calling it “the worst example of political revenge”.

The party on Saturday filed a petition in Lahore High Court terming the arrest of Khan “abduction at gunpoint” by the Punjab police, the news agency PTI reported.

Petitioner Umair Niazi, the party’s additional secretary-general, requested the court to take up his petition without any delay and direct the Punjab police and the government to produce Khan before it to ensure his safety.

“The government has kept Khan in illegal custody. Imran Khan was attending a meeting at his Zaman Park residence at 12.45pm today when some 200 policemen barged into the house and abducted him at gunpoint. They are keeping him in illegal custody,” the petitioner said, requesting the court to take up the petition on Saturday itself and order the authorities to produce the former Prime Minister before it.

Niazi alleged the police “kidnapped” Khan without showing him the court order of his conviction in the Toshakhana case. Khan has been taken to an undisclosed location, thereby, it is requested to produce him before Lahore High Court, Niazi pleaded before the court.

The Lahore High Court Bar Association condemned Khan’s conviction, saying: “It is a slaughter of justice and violation of law pertaining to fair trial.” But governing coalition members hailed the outcome. Attaullah Tarar, a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said: “Imran Khan will have to pay for his corrupt practices and cannot escape justice.” Khan, who is facing an array of court cases, was briefly arrested earlier in the year in a different case. That arrest set off violent protests across the country, as well as attacks on military installations.

Since then the country’s establishment has staged an extensive crackdown, arresting several prominent members of Khan’s party. A large number of the party’s leaders have also defected; some are in hiding. Khan was removed from power last year after a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Since then, he has led a powerful political movement and has accused the military of being behind his ouster, a charge it has denied.

The police in several cities have been put on alert after Khan’s arrest in case his supporters take to the streets.

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