ISLAMABAD: A bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended the sentences of former prime minister Imran Khan and his spouse, Bushra Bibi, in the Toshakhana reference.

On January 31, an Islamabad accountability court convicted the couple in a case filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for retaining expensive jewellery from the Toshakhana, after paying a nominal price.

They were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment each, along with a fine of Rs1.54 billion on both of them. The conviction also barred them from holding public office for ten years. Mr Khan and his wife had challenged their convictions in February.

On Monday, an IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb suspended the sentences after the NAB special prosecutor did not oppose the plea.

IHC to hear appeals against ex-PM, Qureshi’s cipher conviction today

Barrister Ali Zafar appeared as the counsel for the ex-premier and his spouse, while NAB prosecutor Amjad Pervaiz was also present.

Barrister Zafar had requested the court to also set aside the conviction. However, the bench noted that since an appeal seeking similar relief for Mr Khan in another case was pending before the Supreme Court, the IHC could not set aside the conviction.

The hearing on appeals against conviction will continue after Eidul Fitr.

The same bench would also take up the appeals against conviction of Mr Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the cipher case today (Tuesday).

The court is scheduled to hear the defence counsel’s arguments from 1pm to 4pm.

While hearing appeals against the Toshakhana reference, the IHC CJ remarked that the proceedings in the cipher case might conclude in the next two to three hearings.

The former prime minister and first lady were accused by NAB of retaining expensive ‘Graff’ jewellery worth Rs300m along with Rs9m accessories.

Mr Khan had contended that the evaluation of gifts done by NAB was based on the estimates of a part-time salesman. He claimed his legal team had the evidence of the real value of the jewellery set, which they could corroborate with the appraiser if allowed the cross examination.

This wasn’t allowed as then-accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir closed the defence counsel’s right to cross-examine witnesses.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2024

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