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4 Feb, 2024 07:30

Imran Khan sentenced to third prison term in a week

A Pakistani court ruled that the former prime minister’s 2018 marriage violated Islamic law
Imran Khan sentenced to third prison term in a week

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi have been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined after a court declared their marriage unlawful on Saturday. It was the third ruling against Khan this week. 

The civil court was set up in Rawalpindi prison, where the ex-PM has been held since August last year on more than 100 charges. The sentences came before a parliamentary election on February 8 that Khan, who remains popular among voters, is barred from contesting. 

On Wednesday, Khan along with his wife were sentenced to 14-year terms for illegally selling state gifts, and the day before Khan was given ten years in prison for leaking state secrets. He claimed the cable he released contained evidence of collusion between the Pakistani military and US officials to have him removed from power in April 2022. 

Khan’s representatives say he will appeal all three cases. The sentences add up to 34 years and will be served concurrently.

The marriage case was filed by Bushra Bibi’s former husband Khawar Maneka, who claimed that she did not observe “iddat” – a mandatory three-month waiting period that a woman must abide by under Islamic law after the death of her husband or a divorce, before marrying another man. The Khans have denied wrongdoing.

Imran Khan, however, argued that the case was brought to “humiliate and disgrace” him and his wife. 

“This marks the first instance in history where a case related to iddat has been initiated,” he told reporters. 

The court decision has been condemned by members of Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, a PTI official, called the marriage case “fake”, saying the judgements against Khan represent a “mockery of the law.”

“The way these trials are being conducted leaves a huge question mark on the February 8 elections. This is a test case for Pakistan’s higher judiciary,” he told Al Jazeera. PTI President Gohar Ali Khan described the trial as “shameful” and vowed to appeal the verdict in a higher court. 

Reema Omar, a Pakistani legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the sentence was “a damning blot on our justice system.”

Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in 2022, with the opposition accusing him of mismanaging the economy and foreign policy. Khan has dismissed all the charges against him as politically motivated.