Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan, wife (Bushra Bibi) sentenced to 14 years in state gifts case.
Verdict comes a day after another court convicted Khan of leaking state secrets and gave him a 10-year prison sentence.
Islamabad, Pakistan – Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, and his wife Bushra Bibi were sentenced to 14 years in prison in a case involving the illegal sale of state gifts.
An accountability court in Rawalpindi, which deals with corruption cases, ruled on Wednesday that the couple would be ineligible to run for public office for ten years and imposed a fine of 787 million rupees ($2.8 million) on each of them.
The sentencing came one day after Khan was sentenced to ten years in prison for disclosing state secrets. It was unclear whether the sentences should run consecutively or concurrently.
Khan (#ImranKhanPTI) has been in jail since August and is currently facing trial in several cases. His lawyer, Intezar Hussain Panjutha, told Al Jazeera that Bushra Bibi has also surrendered to prison authorities.
Khan was sentenced to three years in prison in August in a case brought by Pakistan’s Election Commission for failing to disclose assets derived from the sale of state gifts worth more than 140 million rupees ($501,000) he received while serving as Prime Minister from 2018 to April 2022. The sentence in that case was suspended. The most recent sentencing stems from a parallel case brought by an anti-corruption agency, in which Khan and his wife are accused of graft in the sale of state gifts.
The convictions of arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician occurred about a week before the general elections on February 8.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has already lost its election symbol, the cricket bat, and all of its candidates run as independents.
Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, a PTI official, described Khan’s sentencing as “yet another sad day in Pakistan’s judicial history” and questioned its legitimacy.
“The judiciary is being dismantled. “A flawed decision meant to be suspended by the higher court, as witnesses clearly appeared compromised,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Star witnesses have changed…” There is no cross-questioning, no final argument, and the decision is presented as if it were a predetermined process. This ridiculous decision will be challenged in the higher courts.
Generals telling voters: Don’t turn up to vote
According to Pakistani political analyst Cyril Almeida, Khan’s conviction is a message from the powerful military ( Generals ) to the people ahead of next week’s vote.
“The generals are telling voters: don’t bother. “”Don’t bother voting for Imran (#ImranKhanPTI) because he won’t be allowed to hold power again anytime soon,” he told Al Jazeera.” Whether voters obey (the army Generals) will be determined next week. The charges are political, the conviction is political, and the reversal, if and when it occurs, will be political.
Pakistan’s military wields enormous political power and has been in direct control of the country for three decades, dating back to 1947. While no prime minister in Pakistan’s history has served a full term, three of four military dictators ruled for nearly a decade each.
Lawyer Rida Hosain said the speed with which Khan’s (#ImranKhanPTI) consecutive convictions were announced is inexplicable.
“The right to a fair trial is at the core of any civilized society governed by the rule of law. Even those accused of the most serious crimes deserve a fair trial. “It is clear that there was no fair process in this case,” she told Al Jazeera.
However, Ashtar Ausaf Ali, a former attorney general of Pakistan, stated that the PTI’s lawyers were given ample opportunity to present their arguments. “They failed to rebut or impeach the prosecution’s case,” the prosecutor said.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the US State Department declined to comment on Khan’s sentencing in the state secrets case.
“Of course, we want to see the democratic process unfold in a way that allows for broad participation from all parties.
while upholding democratic principles. We don’t take positions on internal Pakistani issues, as you’ve heard us say before, or on candidates for office in Pakistan,” spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.
“We want to see a free, fair and open democratic process, and when it comes to legal matters, those are matters for the Pakistani courts to decide.”
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA #ImranKhanPTI