Toshakhana case: Police arrest Imran Khan after trial court hands him 3-year imprisonment

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Saturday was arrested from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore after being convicted in theToshakhana case.

Khan, who denies the allegations against him, was accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs140 million ($490,000).

“Charges of misdeclaration of assets have been proven against PTI chairman,” the Additional and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar mentioned in his judgement.

The PTI chief’s family sources and lawyer, Intazar Hussain Panjutha, have confirmed his arrest, while his legal team said they would be filing an immediate appeal.

Judge Dilawar sentenced the PTI chief to three-yearimprisonment, issuing arrest warrants against him and a fine of Rs100,000.

The judge also rejected Khan’s petition against the maintainability of the case.

The former prime minister, who was ousted from office after a no-confidence motion was moved against him in April 2022, had challenged the Toshakhana case, related to the alleged misdeclaration of gifts he took from the state gifts repository, on several forums including the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The trial court had summoned Khan in his personal capacity today (Saturday) for a hearing in the Toshakhana case after the high court rejected his pleas challenging the maintainability order.

On Friday, the IHC also turned down Khan’s request to transfer the case to another court and directed Judge Dilawar to continue hearing the case.

The former premier is facing over 150 cases brought against him since being ousted in April last year — charges he says are politically motivated.

‘Imran Khan cheated’
In his short order, ADSJ Dilawar declared that application against the reference filed by the ECP was maintainable on the ground that “nobody argued [the] application filed by [the] accused questioning [the] maintainability of [the] complaint… on the basis of earlier findings in [the] order dated 05.05.2023 and 08.07.2023 the said application is dismissed.”

Court order — by reporter
Court order — by reporter
Furthermore, he wrote that the court found the ECP’s arguments “confidence-inspiring, well-knitted” and corroborated by evidence.

“So, the charge against the accused has successfully been proven that [the] accused has committed [the] 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 the years 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and making and publishing a false statement and submitting false and incorrect declaration in material particular relating to Form-8 for the year 2020-2021.”

The order further declared that Khan was guilty of corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from the national exchequer wilfully and intentionally.

“He cheated while providing information about gifts he obtained from Toshakhana which later proved to be false and inaccurate. His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt.”

Convicting the PTI chairman under section 174 of The Election Act 2017, the judge sentenced him to three years of imprisonment, with a fine of Rs.100,000.

A timeline of Toshakhana case
On October 21, 2022, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) maintained that the former prime minister made “false statements and incorrect declarations” about the gifts and disqualified him under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

Subsequently, the election watchdog moved a sessions court in the federal capital, seeking criminal proceedings against the PTI chief for allegedly misleading the ECP regarding gifts received from foreign dignitaries while he was in office.

The trial court indicted the PTI chairman on May 10 and rejected his petition to declare the case inadmissible.

On July 4, the IHC overturned the trial court’s ruling and directed it to rehear the petitioner and decide the matter within seven days.

On July 8, ADSJ Humayun Dilawar declared the Toshakhana case against Khan as maintainable, which was again challenged in the IHC.

During the trial proceedings, Khan’s lawyers also accused the presiding judge of bias on the basis of his Facebook posts and sought the transfer of the case.

On August 2, the trial court rejected the list of witnesses presented by PTI chairman, stating that he failed to prove their “relevance” in the criminal proceedings against him. It was also challenged in the high court.

However, the PTI chairman again moved the high court seeking a stay and transfer of the case to another court.

On August 4, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq referred the matter back to the trial court with a direction to re-examine the jurisdiction and any procedure lapse in the filing of the complaint by the Election Commission.

The chief justice decided four petitions by Imran Khan against jurisdiction, alleged defective filing of the complaint, transfer of the case and the controversial Facebook posts of the judge.

Today, when ADSJ Humayun Dilawar resumed the hearing, no representative of the PTI chairman appeared before him. The court then adjourned the hearing multiple times and reserved the verdict after no one from the defence team appeared.

Later, the judge announced the verdict, stating that the PTI chief has been found guilty of corrupt practices and sentenced him to three years in jail.

What is Toshakahana case?
Under the rules governing Toshakhana — a Persian word meaning “treasure house” — government officials can keep gifts if they have a low worth, while they must pay a dramatically reduced fee to the government for extravagant items.

The Toshakhana has been under a microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Khan purchased the gifts he received as prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for staggering profits.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs140 million ($490,000).

The gifts included watches given by a royal family, according to government officials, who have alleged previously that Khan’s aides sold them in Dubai.

Moreover, seven wristwatches, six made by watchmaker Rolex, and the most expensive a “Master Graff limited edition” valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000), was also among the gifts.

A reference was forwarded by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf to the Election Commission asking it to probe the matter.

In October 2022, the electoral body declared the former premier guilty of corrupt practices and filed a complaint in an Islamabad court.

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