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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has suspended the 14-year sentences of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in the Toshakhana reference. However, their release remains withheld due to other convictions in separate cases.

Imran and Bushra Bibi were convicted in the Toshakhana reference by an Islamabad accountability court on January 31, just days before the general elections. Alongside the 14-year sentences, they were also barred from holding public office for ten years and fined Rs787 million each. Additionally, they received a seven-year jail term in a case related to their marriage during the latter’s Iddat period. Earlier, a special court sentenced Imran and his foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, to ten years in prison for breaching state secrets under the Official Secrets Act.

The Toshakhana reference, filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), alleged that Imran and Bushra retained a jewelry set from the Saudi crown prince against an undervalued assessment. NAB claimed that during Imran’s tenure as prime minister, the couple received 108 gifts from heads of state and foreign dignitaries.

Bushra Bibi challenged her conviction on February 17, contesting a government notification that declared her Banigala residence as a sub-jail. The IHC admitted the appeals against their conviction on February 27, requisitioning trial records by March 7.

During the hearing, Imran’s counsel, Barrister Ali Zafar, asserted that the conviction lacked evidence and criticized the jail trial’s legality. He emphasized that Imran could not remain in custody for the Toshakhana reference, deeming the case baseless.

The hearing, presided over by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, clarified that arguments would only be heard regarding the Toshakhana sentence suspension, deferring the appeal against conviction. The NAB prosecutor expressed no objection to the sentence suspension, focusing solely on the case’s procedural aspects.

While Imran’s legal team sought to suspend the conviction along with the sentence, the court deferred the matter to the Supreme Court. Consequently, the court suspended Imran and Bushra’s sentences in response to the NAB prosecutor’s stance.

Judge Mohammad Bashir, who pronounced the accountability court verdict, had closed the right of cross-examination for the prosecution witnesses. Following the announcement, Bushra surrendered to authorities and was initially detained at Adiala Jail before being moved to Imran’s Bani Gala residence, which was declared a sub-jail without their application.

International Desk