Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan Sentenced to 14 Years for Selling State Gifts
A Pakistani anti-graft court on Wednesday send the former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi to prison for 14 years in a case related to the unlawful sale of state gifts. His supporters question the harsh sentence that comes days before elections.
The judge also disqualified the couple from holding public office for 10 years and fined them 757 million rupees (US$2.7 million). Wednesday’s verdict came a day after Khan was given a 10 years prison sentence in another case for revealing state secrets.
The ruling followed a probe by the country's top anti-graft watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which had also charged Khan’s wife.
Khan is facing over a hundred different charges across multiple cases.
In August 2023, he was given a three-year prison sentence for selling state gifts worth more than 140 million rupees ($501,000), which he received when he was prime minister from 2018 to April 2022. He later secured bail but remained in jail facing trial in other cases.
“Firstly a half broken democracy was dismantled and now the judicial system has been shattered,” Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, Imran Khan's advisor on International Media and affairs told OCCRP.
Government officials alleged that Khan's aides sold the state gifts in Dubai.
A list of the expensive gifts shared by a former information minister included diamond jewellery, perfumes, dinner sets, and seven precious watches, six of them Rolexes; the most expensive was a "Master Graff limited edition" worth 85 million rupees ($304,000).
The timing of both convictions against Khan one after another is quite significant, coming just a week before Pakistanis are to vote in a delayed general election. Voting will be held on February 8, but Khan, who is a hugely popular leader, was banned from running.
After the verdict, PTI's acting chairman and lawyer Gohar Ali Khan, told reporters that, “Bibi’s conviction is an attempt to pressurise Khan, Bibi has no association to this case," he added.
“While Imran Khan himself admitted to selling, for profit, the gifts that he bought from the state treasury for a nominal price, the maximum sentence handed to him for corruption seems excessive,” Osama Malik, a senior legal expert told OCCRP.
“The timing of the decision, right before national polls, and the hurried trial also place question marks on this verdict. It is quite likely that these loopholes at the trial stage will result in this verdict being eventually suspended by the appellate court,” he predicted.