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Pakistan court suspends ex-premier's sentence in corruption case, but detention to continue

Pakistan court suspends ex-premier's sentence in corruption case, but detention to continue

Imran Khan was sentenced to 3 years in jail in case involving state gifts earlier this month

 

By Aamir Latif

 

PAKISTAN (AA) - 

A Pakistani court on Tuesday suspended former Prime Minister Imran Khan's three-year sentence on corruption charges, ordering his release on bail.

A two-judge bench of the Islamabad High Court led by Justice Aamer Farooq, which reserved the judgment on Monday, announced the short order on Khan's appeal.

The 70-year-old politician was sentenced by a trial court in Islamabad earlier this month for concealing details and unlawfully selling state gifts he received during his nearly four-year stint as the prime minister from 2018 to 2022. Consequently, he was barred from holding public office for five years by the election commission.

The cricketer-turned-politician, who is facing a string of cases, was ousted through a no-trust vote in April 2022. He is currently incarcerated in the northwestern Attock city.

Despite the suspension of the sentence and grant of bail, there are slim chances of Khan's release from jail as he is already on judicial remand on charges of exposing official secrets. Prison authorities have been asked to keep the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief in a "judicial lockup" and produce him before a special court on Wednesday.

The case is related to diplomatic communication between Washington and Islamabad, which Khan says was part of a US conspiracy to topple his government.

Legal experts say the ex-premier's conviction and his subsequent disqualification will remain in effect until the trial court's judgment is set aside.

Raja Khalid, a senior lawyer, told Anadolu that suspension of Khan's conviction is not "unusual," but he still stands disqualified for contesting the election, which is due later this year but is likely to be delayed for several months.

Senator Ali Zafar, one of Khan's lawyers, however, argued the ex-prime minister had been reinstated as the party chairman after the verdict.

Shoaib Shaheen, another member of Khan's legal team, called the verdict a "victory of justice."

Former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, for his part, expressed disappointment, accusing the country's chief justice, Umar Ata Bandial, who said there were shortcomings in the trial court verdict, of pressuring the high court.

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