ISLAMABAD, Aug 29 (Reuters) – A Pakistani court has suspended his latest conviction on corruption charges, but that will not lead to his release because the judge has ordered his detention in another case, the lawyer for former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Naeem Panjotha, said on Tuesday.
The 70-year-old former cricket hero has been at the center of political turmoil in the crisis-ridden nuclear-armed country since he was ousted in a parliamentary vote of confidence in April 2022, and his relations with Pakistan’s powerful generals have deteriorated badly over the past year.
Khan was jailed on August 5 after being sentenced to three years in jail for illegally selling state gifts during his prime ministership from 2018 to 2022. As a result of the conviction, and with national elections expected in the coming months, the Election Commission of Pakistan has also banned Khan from running. Elections for a period of five years.
“The verdict has been suspended,” Panjutha said on the X messaging platform, formerly known as Twitter, adding, “Thank God.”
Khan’s legal team appealed against his conviction on the grounds that he was convicted without the right to defend himself.
The court also ordered Khan to be released on bail, his lawyer, Shoaib Shaheen, told reporters outside the court. But he will not be released because he has been arrested in at least one other case for leaking state secrets.
A special court in Islamabad ordered prison authorities to keep Khan in judicial custody and bring him before the court on Wednesday, under an undated order seen by Reuters.
An FIA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Khan is accused of revealing the contents of a secret telegram sent by Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and using it for political gain.
Khan’s chief aide, former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, has already been arrested in the same case.
Khan claims the cable proves that his removal was at the behest of the United States, which he says pressured the Pakistani military to overthrow his government because he visited Russia shortly before its attack on Ukraine.
The United States and the Pakistani army denied this.
Khan faces dozens of cases, including charges of incitement to murder and organizing violent protests.
It is unclear how the ban on contesting elections will be affected with the suspension of his sentence. National elections are scheduled for later this year, but are likely to be delayed by several months.
The suspension marks another win for Khan and comes a day after the Balochistan High Court dropped the sedition charges against him, saying they had been filed incorrectly.
(Reporting by Asif Shahzad – Reporting) Editing by Simon Cameron Moore
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