Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday challenged his conviction in the Toshakhana corruption case by a trial court, saying the verdict by a “biased” judge was a “slap in the face due process and fair trial” and “a gross travesty of justice”.
Khan, 70, was arrested on Saturday shortly after an Islamabad trial court found him guilty of “corrupt practices” in the Toshakhana case and sentenced him to three years in jail. Khan is currently lodged in the Attock Jail.
Khan has appealed his conviction and the three-year prison sentence in the case by filing a plea through his lawyers – Khawaja Haris and Gohar Ali Khan – at the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
He said that the trial judge made the conclusions on the basis of a “predisposed mind” instead of merit of the case because the petitioner’s lawyer was not given the right of presenting arguments.
Khan’s plea stated that the judgment passed by the trial court judge was “tainted with bias, is a nullity in the eye of the law and is liable to be set aside”.
It said the order was issued without providing the petitioner with a chance to fight his case and alleged that Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar had refused to hear the arguments of Haris, Imran’s counsel in the Toshakhana case, on the pretext that he was late – which the plea claimed was because he was filing other applications with the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court.
Thus, the petition said, the verdict of the trial court was a “slap in the face due process and fair trial” and “a gross travesty of justice”.
“The impugned judgment was announced despite the fact that before commencement counsel for the appellant was very much in court fully prepared to address arguments after explaining the reasons for the delay in arriving in court, but the trial judge, who throughout the proceedings had been exhibiting his extreme bias towards the appellant and his counsel, and constantly using disparaging remarks against them, even in their absence, was bent on carrying out a well-orchestrated plan,” it read.
He accused that the judgment given at the conclusion of hearing had already been prepared and written, which is why a 35-page verdict was issued within 30 minutes of the announcement of the decision through a short order.
The plea named the district election commissioner of Islamabad as the respondent in the case.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf announced on WhatsApp group of foreign media journalists that the court accepted the petition and fixed it for hearing on Wednesday.
Separately, the IHC granted permission to Khan’s lawyers to meet him in jail as the court took up a petition filed by the party seeking A-Class facilities for the ex-premier.
Later, the court asked Khan’s party to provide names of two lawyers who should meet Khan in prison.
Khan was convicted in the case filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last year after it had disqualified him for not showing the money he received after selling the gifts he purchased at a discounted price from Toshakhana.
The Toshakhana case says that Khan “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana, a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept, during his time as the prime minister and proceeds from their reported sales.
Khan is accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs 140 million (USD 635,000).
This is the second time in three months that Khan has been arrested.
Khan was arrested on May 9 in Islamabad from the high court’s premises in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case, sparking violent protests by his supporters.
Khan faces more than 140 cases across the country and charges like terrorism, violence, blasphemy, corruption and murder.