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Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan and wife plead not guilty in corruption case

It is alleged they accepted land from a property tycoon in exchange for large sums of laundered money.

Imran Khan, right, and Bushra Bibi, his wife, have appeared in court (KM Chaudary/AP)
Pakistan Politics Imran Khan, right, and Bushra Bibi, his wife, have appeared in court (KM Chaudary/AP) (K.M. Chaudary/AP)

Pakistan’s imprisoned former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife have pleaded not guilty in a corruption case alleging they accepted the gift of land from a property tycoon in exchange for large sums of laundered money.

The case is the second to indict Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi over acts of corruption allegedly committed while the former cricket star turned Islamist politician was in office.

Prosecutors accuse the couple of using their family’s charity to set up a university on land given to them by tycoon Malik Riaz.

Supporters of imprisoned Imran Khan’s party hold a protest (Fareed Khan/AP)
Pakistan Elections Supporters of imprisoned Imran Khan’s party hold a protest (Fareed Khan/AP) (Fareed Khan/AP)

In turn, the businessman was allegedly given £190 million in laundered money that was returned to Pakistan by British authorities.

Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022, is serving multiple prison terms and has some 170 legal cases pending against him on charges ranging from corruption to inciting people to violence and terrorism.

The couple have also been convicted in a corruption case on charges of selling state gifts while in office.

Khan has denied wrongdoing and has insisted since his arrest last year that all the charges against him are a plot by his rivals to keep him from returning to office.

He was barred from running in the February 8 parliamentary elections in which his rivals from the Pakistan Muslim League party, or PML-N, emerged as the largest in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament.

Khan’s rival, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, is now on track to form a coalition government when the parliament meets for its inaugural session on Friday.

On Tuesday, Khan was taken before the judge at the high-security court set up inside the Adiala Prison, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi just outside Islamabad, where he is serving his prison terms concurrently.

Bibi, who is imprisoned at the couple’s home in Islamabad, was taken to the court in a security convoy. The couple pleaded not guilty after the latest charge was read to them and the judge adjourned the proceedings until next month.

Pakistan’s former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif is on course to return to power (KM Chaudary/AP)
Pakistan Election Pakistan’s former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif is on course to return to power (KM Chaudary/AP) (K.M. Chaudary/AP)

Separately, Khan and Bibi have been sentenced to seven years in prison each on charges that their 2018 wedding violated marriage laws, allegedly because insufficient time had lapsed between Bibi’s previous divorce and their union.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party condemned Tuesday’s proceedings as “one sided” and complained because Khan’s legal team has had limited access to him and because the media have been barred from covering the trial.

Lawyer Salman Safdar, who represents Khan and Bibi, told reporters outside the Adiala Prison later on Tuesday that the pair are being treated “in an objectionable and condemnable manner”.

He said the couple’s legal team has already filed appeals and that he hopes for an acquittal soon.

Khan has so far been convicted on charges of corruption, revealing official secrets and violating marriage laws in three separate verdicts and sentenced to 10, 14 and seven years respectively. Under Pakistani law, he is to serve the terms concurrently — meaning, the length of the longest of the sentences.

Khan is appealing against all the convictions.