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Imran Khan, wife, bag 14-year jail term for corruption

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Ex cricketer Imran Khan in early lead in Pakistan election

Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, have been sentenced to 14 years in prison, the second time in two days for Pakistan’s former prime minister.

The couple was convicted of illegally benefiting from state gifts just a week before the general election, in which he was forbidden from running.

Khan, who was removed as Prime Minister by his opponents in 2022, is already serving a three-year prison sentence for corruption.

He claims that the various cases against him are politically motivated.

Wednesday’s court case hinged around allegations about state gifts he and his wife received while in government, but Tuesday’s case, for which he was sentenced to 10 years, involved leaking classified state documents. It is assumed that the two sentences would run concurrently, but this has not been confirmed.

The court also ordered the pair to pay a fine of around 1.5 billion rupees (£4.2 million; $5.3 million).

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party further stated that the sentencing will prevent their leader from running for public office for another ten years.

Khan’s lawyers indicated they would file an appeal with Pakistan’s High Court in both instances.

The former premier and international cricketer has been incarcerated since his arrest in August last year, spending the majority of his time at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail.

His wife, Bushra Bibi, who had been in detention, surrendered to the jail on Wednesday.

According to a government order issued late Wednesday, she would be placed under house arrest at her Islamabad residence until further notice.

Bibi has traditionally maintained a quiet profile during their tenure in office. The couple married in 2018, months before Khan was elected Prime Minister.

In the so-called Toshakhana (state treasury) issue, both vigorously disputed allegations made against them by Pakistan’s anti-corruption commission that they sold or kept official gifts obtained while in government for personal gain. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia provided a jewellery set as one of these gifts.

The PTI has labelled Khan’s cases as fraudulent, claiming that the trials were conducted under pressure in “kangaroo courts” with rushed proceedings. His lawyers claim he was not given a chance to defend himself, and court reporters say neither Khan nor Bibi, nor their legal teams, were present when the sentences were handed down.

It stated that Wednesday’s case marked “another sad day in our judicial system history,” claiming that the court was being “dismantled” and that the result was similar to “a pre-determined process in play.” Pakistan’s court preserves its independence.

According to Dr. Farzana Shaikh, an associate fellow at Chatham House’s Asia-Pacific project, the timing of the sentences might be viewed as the establishment assuring “there is absolutely no way Imran Khan can make it out in time for the election.”.

“He has been in prison, but do remember the first of these sentences [was] imposed on him for corruption, and a higher court actually suspended the sentence because it was seen to be full of holes,” she told the press.

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