Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife have been sentenced to seven years in prison on a charge that their 2018 marriage broke the country’s laws, officials and their defence lawyers have said.
The verdict follows another case in which Khan, who is also a cricket legend in the country, and his wife Bushra Bibi were sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday after being convicted of corruption.
The developments come ahead of parliamentary elections on 8 February in Pakistan in which Khan has already been disqualified as part of his corruption conviction.
Intisar Panjutha, the couple’s lawyer, said the latest verdict was announced by Judge Qudrat Ullah a day after the trial ended.
The prosecution had argued Khan and his wife violated Pakistan’s law that a woman must wait three months before marrying again.
The guilty verdicts mark Khan’s fourth conviction since he was ousted from power in 2022.
Khan and his family insist all the charges and convictions are politically motivated.
His sentences will be served concurrently.
A day before he was handed a 14-year sentence in the corruption case, where he and Bibi were accused of retaining and selling state gifts when he was in power, Khan was jailed for 10 years for leaking state secrets.
The 71-year-old, the founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was earlier jailed for three years in August 2023 on corruption charges.
‘This is a bogus case’
The latest ruling was condemned by the Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
Gohar Khan, the head of the party, told reporters that Khan will appeal.
“This is a bogus case against Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi, but still they were given the maximum prison sentence by the court,” he said.
Bibi, Khan’s third wife, was a spiritual healer who was previously married to a man who had claimed that they divorced in November 2017, less than three months before she married Khan.
Bibi has said their divorce was in August 2017.
Khan and Bibi repeatedly denied during the trial that they violated the three-month waiting period.
The couple were also fined 500,000 rupees (£1,417) each after being convicted in the case.
Fears of riots again after latest decision
Khan, who was previously married to British journalist Jemima Goldsmith and British-Pakistani journalist Reham Khan, is currently serving multiple prison terms at Adiala prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
His trials were held there due to security concerns.
Khan has also been embroiled in more than 150 cases, which include inciting people to violence after his arrest in May 2023.
During nationwide riots that month, Khan’s supporters attacked the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, stormed an air base in Mianwali in the eastern Punjab province and torched a building housing state-run Radio Pakistan in the northwest.
The violence subsided only when Khan was released at the time by the Supreme Court.
Khan and Bibi also face another corruption case allegedly involving giving undue benefits to a property tycoon in return for establishing an Islamic university.