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Pakistan court indicts jailed ex-premier Imran Khan, his wife in £190 million corruption case

Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi speak to the media. File
| Photo Credit: AP

An accountability court in Pakistan on indicted Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi in the £190 million Al Qadir corruption case, in another blow to the beleaguered former Prime Minister who is currently in jail after being convicted in multiple cases.

Judge Nasir Javed Rana, who replaced Judge Mohammad Bashir as he is retiring in a few weeks, conducted the hearing at Rawalpindi’s high-security Adiala jail where the 71-year-old Pakistan-Tehreek-Insaf founder is incarcerated in graft cases as well as the Cipher leak case.

The Al-Qadir Trust case pertains to the settlement of £190 million, which the U.K.’s National Crime Agency sent to Pakistan after recovering the amount from Pakistani property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain.

Mr. Khan and his wife Ms. Bushra, who were brought before the court, pleaded not guilty after the judge read the chargesheet in their presence.

Mr. Khan was arrested in the same case from the premises of the Islamabad High Court on May 9, 2023. His arrest sparked violent protests across the country, with his protesters attacking military installations. Later, the Supreme Court declared his arrest on May 9 as illegal.

In December, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) initiated an investigation against Mr. Khan, his wife, and others regarding the alleged acquisition of hundreds of canals of land under the name of Al Qadir University Trust, resulting in a reported loss of £190 million to the exchequer.

During the hearing on February 27, the court said that statements of 58 witnesses will be recorded in the case, Geo News reported.

The judge asked Mr. Khan if he was guilty or not while framing charges against him.

“Why should I read the chargesheet when I know what’s written in it?” Mr. Khan replied.

Both Mr. Khan and his wife denied the charges against them.

Mr. Khan’s counsel said that copies of references have to be provided seven days before the indictment, adding that these documents hold importance in this case.

“We have filed a petition to share the copy of the documents,” he added.

The hearing was adjourned till March 6 and the court also ordered five witnesses of NAB to attend the hearing.

The court also approved Mr. Khan’s petition seeking a general physician and dentist for his medical examination and dental check-up in jail.

Ms. Bushra, 49, is imprisoned at Mr. Khan’s Bani Gala residence in Islamabad after an accountability court sentenced the couple to 14 years in jail in the Toshakhana corruption case last month. She was brought to the court in a security convoy.

According to the Al-Qadir Trust case, Mr. Khan, when he was the Prime Minister, instead of depositing the £190 million in the national treasury, allowed property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain to use the amount to partly settle a fine of about PKR 450 billion imposed by the Supreme Court some years ago.

The businessman, in return, allegedly gifted about 57 acres of land to a trust set up by Mr. Khan and his wife, Ms. Bushra Bibi, to establish the Al-Qadir University in the Sohawa area of the Jhelum district of Punjab.

Mr. Hussain, his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, Mirza Shehzad Akbar, and Zulfi Buk­hari are also among the suspects in the case, but instead of joining the investigation and subsequent court proceedings, they absconded and were subsequently dec­lared as proclaimed offenders.

Mr. Khan was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. More than 150 cases have been registered against him since his ouster from power. Khan has also been disqualified from holding any public office for 10 years.

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