Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan sentenced to three years in prison

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan sentenced to three years in prison

Police have arrested former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan in the eastern city of Lahore, his lawyer said, after a court sentenced him to three years in prison for illegally selling state gifts.

Legal experts say a conviction in the case could end Khan’s chances of participating in national elections that have to be held before early November.

Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said in a statement they had already filed an appeal in the country’s Supreme Court over the district court case.

“Police have arrested Imran Khan from his residence,” Khan’s lawyer Intezar Panjotha told Reuters.

“We are filing a petition against the decision in high court.”

Khan’s arrest and detention for several days in May over a separate case had sparked intense political turmoil and deadly clashes had erupted between Khan supporters and police.

Pakistani media and a Reuters witness described police surrounding Khan’s residence in Lahore after the verdict was released, but there were no immediate signs of unrest in the hours after his arrest.

Lahore’s Police Chief Bilal Siddique Kamiana confirmed the arrest and told Reuters the politician was being transferred to the capital, Islamabad.

He would then be held at Central Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, near the capital, according to the arrest warrant.

The sentence relates to an inquiry conducted by the election commission, which found Khan guilty of unlawfully selling state gifts during his tenure as prime minister from 2018 to 2022.

Khan has denied any wrongdoing.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was accused of misusing his premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($A757,414).

The conviction came just a day after Pakistan’s high court had temporarily halted the district court trial. It was not immediately clear why the trial had proceeded despite the high court decision.

Pakistan’s information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a broadcast statement that Khan’s arrest followed a full investigation and proper legal proceedings in a trial court.

She said his arrest was unrelated to the upcoming elections.

In a post on X (formely Twitter), Khan said his arrest was expected and pre-recorded a message to his supporters, saying “I have only one appeal, do not sit at home silently.”

“You have to protest peacefully [otherwise] you don’t get your rights,” he said.

Since his ousting from power in a no-confidence vote in the parliament in April 2022, Khan has been slapped with more than 150 legal cases.

They include several on charges of corruption, terrorism and inciting people to violence over deadly protests in May that saw his followers attack government and military property across the country.

Once criticised for being under the thumb of powerful generals, the ousting came following worsening relations between him and former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He has said the army, under current chief General Asim Munir, is continuing to target him and his party in a bid to keep him out of the elections and prevent him from returning to power. The army denies this.

Source: ABC NEWS

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