Pakistan’s Imran Khan and his wife appear in court, plead not guilty in another corruption case

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan (right) with his wife Bushra Bibi (left). (File image: AFP)

This is the second case to charge Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi for acts of corruption allegedly committed by the former cricket star-turned-Islamist politician while he was in office.

Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife appeared in a court near Islamabad on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty in a corruption case alleging they stole money from a real estate tycoon, officials said. A gift of land was accepted in exchange for the money.

The case marks the second time Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi have been indicted for acts of corruption allegedly committed by the former cricket star-turned-Islamist politician while he was in office.

Prosecutors accused the couple of using their family’s charity to set up a university on land gifted to them by tycoon Malik Riaz. In return, the businessman was reportedly given money worth 190 million British pounds ($240 million) which was returned to Pakistan by British authorities.

Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022, is currently serving multiple prison terms and has about 170 legal cases pending against him on charges ranging from corruption to inciting people to violence and terrorism. The couple has earlier been convicted in a corruption case for selling government gifts while in office.

Khan has denied wrongdoing and has insisted since his arrest last year that all the allegations against him are a plot by his rivals to prevent him from returning to office.

He was barred from contesting the February 8 parliamentary elections in which his rival from the Pakistan Muslim League Party, or PML-N, emerged as the single largest candidate in the National Assembly, or the lower house of parliament. Khan’s rival, former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is now on track to form a coalition government for the inaugural session of Parliament.

On Tuesday, Khan was brought before a judge at the high security court set up inside the Adiala jail in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, just outside Islamabad, where he is also serving his prison sentence.

Bibi, who was imprisoned in the couple’s home in Islamabad, was brought to the court in a security convoy. Khan’s legal team said the couple pleaded not guilty after the latest charges were read and the judge adjourned the proceedings until next month.

Separately, Khan and Bibi were also sentenced to seven years in prison each on charges that their 2018 marriage violated marriage laws, allegedly because not enough time had passed between Bibi’s previous divorce and their union. had passed.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party condemned Tuesday’s proceedings as “one-sided” and complained that Khan’s legal team had limited access to him and the media were barred from covering the trial.

Lawyer Salman Safdar, representing Khan and Bibi, told reporters outside Adiala jail on Tuesday that the two were being treated in “objectionable and condemnable” manner. He said the couple’s legal team has already filed an appeal and they are hopeful that they will be acquitted soon.

Khan has so far been convicted in three separate verdicts on charges of corruption, revealing official secrets and violating marriage laws and sentenced to 10, 14 and seven years in prison respectively. Under Pakistani law, he must serve all the terms concurrently – that is, the longest sentence period.

Khan is appealing against all convictions.

The inaugural session of the new parliament is expected to take place later this week, although the parliament has not yet confirmed this.

Ishaq Dar, a senior leader of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party, accused President Arif Alvi of trying to delay the National Assembly on “technical grounds”, but did not elaborate. Dar on Tuesday said that if Alvi did not call the session then the outgoing Speaker would call it as a constitutional requirement.

Dar also told reporters that the new prime minister would be voted on by Parliament within a few days of the inaugural session. He said that he hoped that a new government would be formed next week.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – The Associated Press)