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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife plead not guilty in another corruption case

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife plead not guilty in another corruption case


ISLAMABAD (AP) Jailed former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a corruption case, alleging they accepted a land donation from a real estate tycoon in exchange for large sums of money laundered, officials said.

The case is the second to charge Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, with corruption allegedly committed while the former cricket star turned Islamist politician was in power.

Prosecutors accuse the couple of using their family's charity to set up a university on land given to them by tycoon Malik Riaz. In return, the businessman allegedly received £190 million ($240 million) in laundered money which was allegedly returned to Pakistan by British authorities.

Khan, who was ousted in a vote of no confidence in Parliament in April 2022, is currently serving several prison sentences and has some 170 legal cases pending against him on charges ranging from corruption to inciting violence and to terrorism. The couple had previously been convicted in a corruption case for selling state gifts while in power.

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

He was not allowed to run in the February 8 legislative elections, in which his rivals from the Pakistan Muslim League, or PML-N, became the largest presence in the National Assembly, or lower house of the parliament. Khan's rival, former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, is set to form a coalition government when Parliament meets for its inaugural session.

Khan's party announced nationwide protests on Tuesday against allegations of election fraud.

This came hours after Khan was produced before the judge at the high security court set up in Adiala prison in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, where he is concurrently serving his prison term.

Bibi, imprisoned at the couple's home in Islamabad, was brought to court in a security convoy. The judge adjourned the proceedings until next month, Khan's legal team said.

Separately, Khan and Bibi were each sentenced to seven years in prison on charges that their 2018 marriage violated marriage laws, allegedly because time had not passed between Bibi's previous divorce and their union.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party condemned Tuesday's proceedings as one-sided. It says Khan's legal team had limited access to him and the media was not allowed to cover the trial.

Lawyer Salman Safdar, who represents Khan and Bibi, told reporters on Tuesday that the two men were being treated in a reprehensible and reprehensible manner. He said the legal team had appealed and he hoped for an acquittal soon.

Khan has so far been found guilty 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 must serve sentences corresponding to the length of the longest sentence concurrently.

Khan is appealing all convictions.

The inaugural session of the new Parliament is expected later this week, although Parliament has not yet confirmed it.

Ishaq Dar, a senior leader of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, accused President Arif Alvi of trying to delay the National Assembly on technical grounds, but did not elaborate. Dar said if Alvi did not convene the session, the outgoing president would do so as per a constitutional requirement.

Dar also told reporters that the new prime minister would be voted on by Parliament a few days after the inaugural session. He added that he hoped the new government would be in place next week.

Munir Ahmed, Associated Press




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