Random Image Display on Page Reload

Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan arrested after court gives 3-year prison sentence

Police arrested Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore on Saturday after a court sentenced him to three years in prison for illegally selling state gifts, potentially barring the opposition leader from contesting an upcoming election.

Cricketer-turned-politician, 70, was accused of misusing his premiership to buy and sell gifts

Lawyers protest in Lahore, Pakistan, following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Police arrested Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore on Saturday after a court sentenced him to three years in prison for illegally selling state gifts, potentially barring the opposition leader from contesting an upcoming election.

Legal experts say the guilty verdict reached by an Islamabad district court could eliminate Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's greatest rival in a national election expected to be held in November.

"Police have arrested Imran Khan from his residence," Khan's lawyer, Intezar Panjotha, told Reuters. "We are filing a petition against the decision in high court."

The arrest is the latest in a series of blows that have weakened Khan's political standing, after he fell out with Pakistan's powerful military and his party splintered.

Lahore Police Chief Bilal Siddique Kamiana confirmed the arrest and told Reuters the politician was being transferred to the capital, Islamabad. He would then be held at Central Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, near the capital, according to the arrest warrant.

Appeal filed

Khan's political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said in a statement it had already filed another appeal to the Supreme Court earlier on Saturday.

Khan, 70, is a former cricket star who went on to forge a political career and who was prime minister from 2018 to 2022. He has denied wrongdoing and in a pre-recorded video address released by his party he asked his supporters to peacefully protest.

"By the time you hear this statement, they will have arrested me. I have only one appeal: don't sit silently at home. I am struggling for you and the country and your children's future," he said.

The conviction came a day after Pakistan's high court temporarily halted the district court trial. It was not immediately clear why the trial had proceeded despite the high court decision.

A man gestures with his right hand as he sits in a chair.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a broadcast statement that Khan's arrest followed a full investigation and proper legal proceedings in a trial court. She said his arrest was unrelated to the upcoming elections.

'Corrupt practices'

A copy of the court verdict, shared by Khan's legal team, said he had made false statements in relation to acquiring official state gifts.

"He has been found guilty of corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from national exchequer wilfully and intentionally," the verdict said.

"He cheated while providing information about gifts he obtained from Toshakhana (the state gift repository) which later proved to be false and inaccurate."

Lead up to election

Police surrounded Khan's residence in Lahore after the verdict was released, Pakistani media and a Reuters witness reported, but there were no immediate signs of unrest in the hours after his arrest, unlike last May.

Then, his arrest and detention for several days over a separate case sparked political turmoil and deadly clashes between his supporters and police.

In the aftermath, thousands of Khan's aides and supporters have been arrested, according to the interior minister. Many pro-Khan parliamentarians were also arrested and distanced themselves from Khan, with some resigning from politics.

Prime Minister Sharif has proposed that parliament be dissolved on Aug. 9, three days before the end of its term, according to political sources, paving the way for a general election by November.

A PTI official said vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a former foreign minister, would lead the party in Khan's absence.

Khan was convicted by the court in a case that was first investigated by the election commission, which found him guilty of unlawfully selling state gifts while prime minister.

He was accused of misusing his premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($850,000 Cdn).

Khan has been charged in a string of cases since being ousted from the premiership in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April 2022.

*****
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

Check Also

Ukraine power plant destroyed as Russia launches widespread attacks on energy grid

Russian missiles and drones destroyed a large electricity plant near Kyiv and hit power facilities …