Pakistan's former PM Imran Khan appeals his conviction in graft case, seeks release from jail

The application was filed by the former premier's lawyers Khawaja Haris and Gohar Ali Khan.

August 08, 2023 03:46 pm | Updated 06:04 pm IST - Islamabad

Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan’s legal team arrives at a court to file petition against Imran Khan’s conviction, in Islamabad on August 8, 2023.

Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan’s legal team arrives at a court to file petition against Imran Khan’s conviction, in Islamabad on August 8, 2023. | Photo Credit: AP

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 8 challenged his conviction in a corruption case by a trial court, saying the verdict by a "biased" judge "was a “slap in the face due process and fair trial” and “a gross travesty of justice”.

Mr. Khan, 70, was arrested on August 5 shortly after an Islamabad trial court found him guilty of “corrupt practices” in the Toshakhana corruption case and sentenced him to three years in jail.

Mr. Khan has appealed his conviction and the three-year prison sentence in a graft case by filing a plea at the Islamabad High Court, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The application was filed by the former premier's lawyers Khawaja Haris and Gohar Ali Khan.

“The decision of the trial court in the Toshakhana case is against the law,” stated the plea seeking for the verdict to be annulled.

The petitioner's counsels have requested the high court to issue an order for the release of the cricketer-turned-politician by suspending the sentence pending the decision on the central appeal.

Mr. Khan’s plea stated that the judgment passed by the trial court judge was “tainted with bias, is a nullity in the eye of the law and is liable to be set aside”

Explaining the grounds for its request, the plea said that the August 5 order was passed “with the pre-disposed mind” of the trial court judge to convict and sentence the appellant “irrespective of the merits of the case”.

It said the order was issued without providing the petitioner with a chance to fight his case and alleged that Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar had refused to hear the arguments of Haris, Imran’s counsel in the Toshakhana case, on the pretext that he was late — which the plea claimed was because he was filing other applications with the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court.

Thus, the petition said, the verdict of the trial court was a “slap in the face due process and fair trial” and “a gross travesty of justice”.

It further alleged that the August 5 judgment was “already written” by the trial court judge, highlighting how the latter only took “30 minutes” to “dictate more than 35 pages” of the judgment.

The plea named the district election commissioner of Islamabad as the respondent in the case.

The Toshakhana case says that Khan “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana, a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept, during his time as the prime minister and proceeds from their reported sales.

Mr. Khan is accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than ₹140 million ($635,000).

The Election Commission of Pakistan on October 21 last year, disqualified the former prime minister in the Toshakhana case for making "false statements and incorrect declaration".

This is the second time in three months that Mr. Khan has been arrested.

Mr. Khan was arrested on May 9 in Islamabad from the high court’s premises in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case, sparking violent protests by his supporters.

Mr. Khan faces more than 140 cases across the country and charges like terrorism, violence, blasphemy, corruption and murder.

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