Imran, Bushra Bibi’s sentences in Toshakhana case suspended by IHC

In a significant legal development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has suspended the 14-year sentences handed to former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in the Toshakhana reference. The decision comes after the couple was sentenced by an Islamabad accountability court on January 31, just days before the general elections.

The accountability court’s verdict not only imposed 14-year jail terms on Imran and Bushra but also barred them from holding any public office for a decade. Additionally, they were fined Rs787 million each. This ruling came in the wake of another judgment, a day later, where both were sentenced to seven years in prison each for a case related to their marriage during Bushra’s Iddat period.

Prior to these convictions, Imran Khan and his Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi were sentenced to 10 years in prison by a special court established under the Official Secrets Act for the breach of state secrets.

The legal troubles continued for the couple as in December, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed a fresh reference against them in an accountability court, alleging that they retained a jewelry set received from the Saudi crown prince against an undervalued assessment. The indictment followed in the next month, with NAB asserting that during Imran’s tenure as prime minister, they received a total of 108 gifts from various heads of state and foreign dignitaries.

Today, a division bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the appeal against the sentences. Barrister Ali Zafar represented the ex-premier and his spouse, while NAB prosecutor Amjad Pervaiz was also present.

The accountability court proceedings saw Judge Mohammad Bashir closing the right of cross-examination of prosecution witnesses and directing Imran and Bushra to record their statements under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Although Bushra Bibi complied, Imran Khan couldn’t. Despite a plea by Imran’s legal team to restore the right of cross-examination, the request was denied by the judge.

Following the announcement of the verdict, Bushra Bibi surrendered to the authorities at Adiala Jail, where she was subsequently taken into custody by NAB. The Islamabad Chief Commissioner later declared Imran Khan’s Banigala residence as a sub-jail for Bushra upon a request by Adiala Jail’s superintendent.

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