Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan gets bail in Al Qadir Trust case but can't leave jail - GulfToday

Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan gets bail in Al Qadir Trust case but can't leave jail


Imran Khan leaves the Islamabad Hight Court after the hearing in graft case. File

Tariq Butt, Correspondent / Agencies

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and former prime minister Imran Khan was granted bail in Islamabad on Wednesday on land corruption charges (Al Qadir Trust case) but will have to stay in jail to serve time in two other cases, his lawyer said.

The former cricket superstar was indicted last week on charges that he and his wife were gifted land by a real estate developer when Khan was prime minister from 2018-22 in exchange for illegal favours. Imran Khan, who denies wrongdoing, had filed a bail application before Islamabad High Court (HC).

Wednesday's bail decision came two months after Imran was indicted for accepting a piece of land that business tycoon Malik Riaz gifted the former premier and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in return for favours. The prosecution at the time said Imran allowed Riaz access to £190 million ($240 million) in laundered money, that the British government repatriated to Pakistan in 2019, to pay heavy fines instead of the funds being deposited in a state-owned account.

A two-member IHC bench, comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, had reserved the verdict on the bail petition a day earlier after providing sufficient opportunities to the two sides to present their side of the story. The IHC, its short order, ordered the authorities to release the PTI founder against the surety bond of Rs1 million.

The PTI has repeatedly slammed the IHC chief justice alleging that he was partisan and biased against its leaders. It intensifies its attack on Justice Farooq when he delivers a verdict that doesn’t favour the PTI. In the instant case, the same judge has provided relief to Imran Khan. Apart from his conviction, the PTI founder is facing a number of other cases that are being investigated by police and other agencies. He has not been arrested in these cases. However, he would be detained in any of these cases if he was granted bail in all the charges he has been facing.

His party lawyer, Naeem Haider Panjutha, confirmed the granting of bail on social media platform X but said Imran Khan remained in custody after two convictions — one involving the leaking of state secrets and the other his marriage violating Islamic law.

Zulfiqar Bukhari, chief spokesperson for PTI, hailed the verdict in a statement, saying Imran Khan could not be freed because his bail applications "in some other bogus cases that are still pending.” Imran has repeatedly denied all charges against him and claimed his ouster was a plot by rivals.

Imran Khan, 71, has been in jail since August last year. In total, he has been convicted in four cases, but sentences in two cases have been suspended.

Imran Khan is named in dozens of cases, including charges of inciting violence against the state in the aftermath of his removal from office in 2022 in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence.

His wife, Bushra Bibi, is also in jail serving time in a case related to unlawfully marrying Imran Khan in 2018.

The case in which Imran was granted bail on Wednesday involves the Al Qadir Trust, a non-governmental welfare organisation set up by Imran Khan and wife when he was still in office.

Prosecutors say the trust was a front for the former premier to receive land as a bribe from a real estate developer. The land includes 60 acres (24 hectares) near Islamabad and another large plot close to Imran's hilltop mansion in the capital.

In a statement following the bail, Imran's media team said the land was not for personal gain and Imran had set up a "religious and scientific" educational institution.

It added that the cases were filed to keep Imran in prison and prevent him from participating the Feb. 8 national elections.

Imran faced a string of convictions in the lead-up to the elections but his party-backed candidates still won the most seats. They did not have the numbers to form a government, which was led by an alliance of his rivals led by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.




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