UPDATE - Ex-Pakistani premier to remain party chief despite conviction

UPDATE - Ex-Pakistani premier to remain party chief despite conviction

Imran Khan given 3-year prison sentence over corruption, decision challenged in court


By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan's main opposition party on Tuesday threw weight behind its incarcerated head and former Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying he will continue to serve as its chief despite being convicted.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) core committee on Tuesday passed a resolution, appointing Khan as the party chairman "for life," according to a statement.

Khan technically stands disqualified from being holding public office due to his conviction over corruption. The PTI, however, has rejected the ruling, calling it "flawed."

The meeting also decided to challenge a set of recent legislations, including approval of new census results, which could delay the next general elections, and amendments in the country's Official Secrets Act.

The party insisted that the next elections must be held within the Constitutional period of 90 days after dissolution of the lower house of parliament.

Khan, earlier in the day, challenged his conviction in the Islamabad High Court, seeking suspension of sentence and his release until the appeal is decided.

He was sentenced to three years in prison by an Islamabad court last week in a case involving failure to declare foreign gift purchases and sales in his declaration to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Khan, who is currently imprisoned in Attock jail, about 88 kilometers (55 miles) off Islamabad, said the ruling is "not sustainable" and "liable to be set aside."

The plea, according to Khan's lawyer Shoaib Shaheen, said the verdict was passed “with the pre-disposed mind” of the trial court judge to convict and sentence the appellant “irrespective of the merits of the case.”

“This is a slap in the face to due process and fair trial and a gross travesty of justice," the petition read, requesting that the verdict be overturned, and Khan be acquitted of the charges.

Since being removed from power last year, Khan has been campaigning for snap general elections, which are due later this year.

On May 9, he was arrested over some of the many corruption allegations he faces, which he denies and says are politically motivated.

In response, there were violent protests across the country, including attacks on state and military installations. Thousands of workers and leaders of his party have since been detained, and numerous senior deputies have also broken away.

Days before he was detained, Khan survived a shooting last November.

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