Three months ago, Khan’s arrest linked to separate corruption charges sparked days of violent clashes between supporters of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement for Justice, and the police. Khan’s arrest was eventually ruled to have been unlawful and he was released.
A copy of Saturday’s verdict by an Islamabad trial court was not immediately available. The former prime minister also faces a number of other charges in separate cases, all of which he has rejected.
In remarks to journalists, senior interior affairs official Attaullah Tarar said the outcome of the trial — which centered on allegations that Khan sold state gifts from foreign dignitaries — proved that the former prime minister “has been proven to be a convicted thief and criminal.”
But Khan’s tens of millions of supporters in Pakistan are likely to view Saturday’s verdict as politically motivated.
Khan was ousted by parliament in April last year after, according to his allies, the military dropped its support for him. Several attempts to arrest him failed, including one this March that resulted in violent clashes.
Public disputes between Khan, the military and the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had mounted in intensity in May, after Khan accused a senior officer of involvement in an assassination attempt against him in November, which he narrowly survived. Military and government officials have strongly denied those claims.