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1 Apr, 2024 20:42

Imran Khan’s jail sentence suspended

The former prime minister of Pakistan had been sentenced to a 14-year term for illegally selling state gifts
Imran Khan’s jail sentence suspended

A Pakistani court on Monday granted the country’s former prime minister Imran Khan leave to appeal his conviction for graft and suspended his 14-year jail sentence, according to Reuters, citing his lawyer.

Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were each handed a 14-year sentence on January 31 – just a week ahead of Pakistan’s February 8 elections, which Khan’s party alleges were rigged. Khan has been in prison since August last year on several charges.

According to his lawyer, Barrister Ali Zafar, the Islamabad High Court said the couple’s sentences for corruption will remain suspended until a final decision on the convictions.

“No evidence backs up this conviction,” he told reporters, claiming that was the reason why the court suspended the sentence on first hearing of the appeal.

Khan and his wife were charged with unlawfully selling state gifts, worth more than 140 million rupees ($500,000), while Khan was prime minister from 2018 to 2022. A list of these gifts reportedly included perfumes, diamond jewelry, dinner sets, and seven watches, mostly Rolexes.

Despite the suspension, 71-year-old Khan will remain in jail on multiple other sentences imposed on the politician ahead of the polls, and which also disqualified him from holding any public office for ten years.

In another such prosecution, the former PM was given ten years in prison for leaking state secrets. Khan claimed that the cable he released contained evidence of collusion between the Pakistani military and US officials to have him removed from power in April 2022.

A former cricketer-turned-politician, Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in 2022, with the opposition accusing him of mismanaging the economy and foreign policy. Since then, the former leader has fought dozens of legal battles.

Khan repeatedly denied the allegations and claimed that he was overthrown as a result of a conspiracy. His Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) also maintained that the cases were based on made-up charges to keep him out of politics. The PTI was barred from the election, forcing its candidates to run as independents.

On March 3, Pakistan’s newly formed government elected Shehbaz Sharif, who heads the country’s Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, as prime minister, following a general election. The vote took place amid protests by Khan’s supporters, who insist the election was a sham. This is the second term for Sharif, who was first elected prime minister in April 2022, after Khan was ousted in the no-confidence vote.

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