Imran arrested after Islamabad court finds him guilty of ‘corrupt practices’ in Toshakhana case

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Dawn News

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, shortly after an Islamabad trial court declared him guilty of “corrupt practices” in the Toshakhana case and sentenced him to three years in prison, was arrested by Punjab police on Saturday afternoon from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.

Lahore Police Chief Bilal Siddique Kamiana confirmed the arrest and told Reuters the former prime minister was being transferred to the capital.

Later, Punjab Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar told Dawn.com that Imran was being shifted to Attock jail.

The court sentenced Imran — who was absent from court — to three years of imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on him while hearing the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) criminal complaint against the PTI chief for concealing details of Toshakhana gifts. His lawyers were also not present.

“The court finds it’s more than convincing that the complainant (ECP) had provided confidence-inspiring, well-knitted and corroborated evidence, and so the charge against the accused has successfully been proven that the accused has committed offence of corrupt practices by making and publishing false statements/declaration in respect of assets acquired by way of gifts from Toshakhana and disposed of during years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020,” Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar said in a short order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.

The judge said that Imran also provided an “incorrect declaration” in the Form-B — the statement of assets and liabilities — submitted to the ECP for the year 2020-2021.

“He has been found guilty of corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from the national exchequer wilfully and intentionally. He cheated while providing information of gifts he obtained from Toshakhana which later proved to be false and inaccurate.

“His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt,” the court order added.

It further said that the PTI chief was convicted under Section 174 (Offence of corrupt practices) of the Election Act and sentenced to three years in prison.

ADSJ Dilawar also directed that a copy of the order, along with the arrest warrant, should be sent to the Islamabad police chief for execution.

The arrest warrant, which has been seen by Dawn.com, authorised the Islamabad police chief to arrest Imran and send him to Central Prison Adiala, Rawalpindi, for “serving out his sentences”.

After today’s verdict, Imran technically stands disqualified from holding any public office for five years under Article 63(1)(h) of the Constitution.

The law states: “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Parliament if he has been, on conviction for any offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.”

He, however, has the right to appeal the verdict.

During the hearing today — which commenced at 8:30am — the judge repeatedly expressed displeasure over the absence of Imran’s lawyers. He, however, gave multiple chances to the defence counsel to appear in court.

Finally, at 12:30pm, ASDJ Dilawar announced the verdict. Roughly 29 minutes later, reports of Imran’s arrest surfaced.

Unlike previous instances, where Zaman Park was usually guarded by party supporters, Imran was taken into custody today without any major resistance. The PTI also confirmed this in a tweet, saying that the party chief didn’t resist the arrest.

It claimed that the Lahore police arrived at Imran’s residence to “kidnap” him even before the written verdict of the trial court was released. Talking about the case, it alleged that “every process from the beginning of the case to the trial and [Imran’s] abduction is illegal”.

In another tweet, the PTI alleged that the Punjab police “broke into” Zaman Park and “beat up” Imran’s security guards and house staff. “Even though Khan sahib expressed his willingness to go with the police, they still dragged him and covered his face with a cloth,” the party added.

A large contingent of police could also be seen taking the PTI chief to jail.

The PTI chairman’s arrest today comes approximately three months after his first arrest on May 9 when he was detained in Islamabad from the high court’s premises in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

Imran’s arrest that day had resulted in widespread violence and saw important military installations come under attack, on the basis of which the state had launched a severe crackdown against his party.

While Imran was released the next day, thousands of PTI workers and almost the entire top-tier leadership was rounded up.

What followed was a large number of party leaders holding press conferences, condemning the May 9 riots — some also called out Imran and his politics — and disassociating themselves with the PTI. The party’s dismantlement has continued since then, barring some senior PTI leaders, most of whom are still behind bars.

While the mass exodus as well as a near-complete blackout of Imran on local media has left the PTI’s future uncertain in the upcoming polls, it also gave birth to a new home for most PTI deserters, Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP), hosted by Jahangir Khan Tareen.

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