Pakistan

Guilty of graft: Imran Khan arrested after court jails him for 3 years in Toshakhana case

Imran Khan, the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was apprehended from his residence in Zaman Park, Lahore, shortly after being found guilty in the Toshakhana case on Saturday. In a significant development, a district and sessions court in the capital city ruled against the former Prime Minister for engaging in corrupt activities linked to the state gift depository, allegations that he denies.

The 70-year-old former cricketer turned politician was charged with using his time as Prime Minister to improperly trade gifts in state possession, which were acquired during overseas visits and valued at over 140 million Pakistani rupees ($635,000).

Judge Dilawar, dismissing Khan’s plea to dismiss the case, sentenced him to a three-year prison term. “The accusations of misreporting assets against the PTI chairman have been substantiated,” noted Additional and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar in the verdict. Subsequently, Khan was sentenced to three years in prison and fined Rs100,000. An arrest warrant was also issued for his immediate apprehension.

Khan’s legal team stated that they intend to file an immediate appeal. Legal experts speculate that a conviction in this case might hinder Khan’s chances of participating in the upcoming national elections.

The former Prime Minister had contested the Toshakhana case, related to alleged misreporting of gifts received from the state gift repository, in various forums, including the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The trial court had summoned Khan personally for the Toshakhana case hearing after the high court rejected his pleas to dismiss the case. On a timeline, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had accused Khan of making false statements regarding gifts, disqualifying him under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution on October 21, 2022.

Subsequently, the election commission requested criminal proceedings against the PTI leader for supposedly misleading the ECP about gifts from foreign dignitaries while he held office. The trial court indicted Khan on May 10 and rejected his plea to dismiss the case.

On August 4, Chief Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC referred the matter back to the trial court, directing a re-examination of the jurisdiction and any procedural lapses in the complaint filing by the Election Commission.

The Toshakhana case revolves around the rules governing the state treasure house, where officials can retain low-value gifts or pay a reduced fee to the government for expensive items. The case gained attention due to allegations that Khan bought gifts he received as Prime Minister at low rates and then sold them for substantial profits.

The accused gifts included watches from a royal family, with allegations that Khan’s associates sold them in Dubai. The controversy also surrounded wristwatches, including a “Master Graff limited edition” valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000).

In October 2022, the Election Commission declared Khan guilty of corrupt practices and filed a complaint in an Islamabad court.

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