In another jolt to Imran Khan ahead of general elections, Pakistan’s anti-corruption court on Tuesday indicted the jailed former prime minister and his wife in the Toshakhana graft case filed against them by the anti-corruption watchdog.
Judge Muhammad Bashir of the Islamabad-based Accountability Court conducted the hearing in the Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi where Mr Khan has been incarcerated. The case was filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi were present when the charges were read. They pleaded not guilty.
A day earlier, the court deferred the indictment because Mr Khan’s wife failed to appear before the court.
According to the case, the 71-year-old former prime minister and his wife received 108 gifts from various heads of state, of which they kept 58. These were also undervalued by them while paying a mandatory price to the state.
The gifts included a jewellery set given by the Saudi Crown Prince, which the couple retained at a low price instead of depositing it in the Toshakhana.
Under the rules governing the Toshakhana – a Persian word meaning “treasure house” – government officials can keep gifts by paying a price for them, but the gift should be deposited first. In the case of the former First Couple, they either failed to deposit the gift or got it for a low price by allegedly using their authority.
This case is different from another Toshakhana litigation in which Mr Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and later convicted on its petition for hiding the proceeds from the sale of the state gifts. Mr Khan was disqualified by the ECP and the Islamabad High Court on December 6 rejected his pleas against disqualification.
The same accountability court also conducted the hearing in the Al-Qadir Trust case involving the alleged corruption of about 60 billion Pakistani Rupees. The former first couple is accused in the case and the court was set to indict them but it was postponed as Bushra Bibi had not been provided with a copy of the case, which was handed over to her today on the orders of the court.
Separately, the court rejected the bail petition of Mr Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust case. However, his wife already secured a pre-arrest bail in the case.
The case is about allegations that Mr Khan failed to deposit Pound 190 million given by the British government. He instead allowed a property tycoon to use it to partially adjust the said amount against the 460-billion Pakistani Rupee fine imposed on him by the Supreme Court.
There are further allegations that the tycoon provided more than 56 acres of land to set up Al-Qadir University, which was established under the Al-Qadir Trust. Both Mr Khan and BushraBibi are trustees.
Property developer Malik Riaz Hussain, his son Ali Riaz, two former aides of Mr Khan including leaders Shehzad Akbar and Zulfiqar Bukhari, Bushra Bibi’s friend Farah Gogi and lawyer Zia Mustafa are also co-accused in the case.
The accountability court declared them absconders for not appearing in court and ordered the freezing of all assets and bank accounts. The court also ordered authorities to seize all vehicles registered in the name of the accused and also issued permanent arrest warrants against them.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)