Islamabad, Aug 5 (EFE).- Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan was sentenced to three years in prison for corruption on Saturday.
The leader of the main opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who denies the charges, was arrested at his home by police in the eastern city of Lahore after a court in Islamabad had issued its guilty verdict, PTI deputy chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed to Efe.
The former prime minister was found guilty of “deliberately submitting false details” to the Election Commission about gifts he received when he was in office, judge Humayun Dilawar said, according to the Pakistani media Dawn.
In a pre-recorded video statement posted on Twitter, Khan said “the arrest was expected” and urged his supporters and PTI colleagues “to remain peaceful, steadfast and strong.”
Khan had already briefly been arrested on corruption charges in May, which led into violent clashes between his party supporters demanding his release and Pakistani security forces.
Hoping to avoid a repeat of those violent scenes that engulfed the country three months ago, the PTI responded to Saturday’s guilty verdict by calling “the whole nation to a peaceful protest”.
This is the first conviction against the former PM, who has faced dozens of cases in the past year since he was ousted in a vote of no confidence.
Specifically, Khan is accused of failing to declare gifts by not transferring them to a Pakistani government repository where items given to government officials by foreign dignitaries are stored.
The process began in October, when the Election Commission found Khan guilty of not declaring the proceeds from the sale of state gifts he had received as prime minister from 2018 to 2022 and requested criminal proceedings against the former PM.
The PTI has rejected Saturday’s verdict, insisting that it “was tainted by political posturing” as it was based on falsified evidence and did not give Khan the opportunity to present witnesses or enough time to build his case.
The conviction “was reached in haste to keep (Khan) out of the election race” the party added on Twitter, warning that they would appeal in court.
Pakistan plans to hold elections later this year, after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday announced he would dissolve parliament on August 9, triggering a 90-day deadline for the polls.EFE