1 of 2 | Supporters of the former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan shout slogans n Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, on Saturday after he was arrested on corruption charges in the Toshakhana case. Photo by Amiruddin Mughal/EPA-EFE
Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested in Lahore on Saturday after an Islamabad trial court found him guilty of graft and sentenced him to three years in prison.
Khan, now chairman of the opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, party, was taken into custody by Punjab police at his residence in Lahore and was taken to Islamabad following the sentencing in the so-called Toshakhana case, the PTI confirmed.
The 70-year-old former prime minister was found guilty of "corrupt practices" by the court after prosecutors accused him pocketing profits from the sale of state gifts when he was in office from 2018 to 2022.
The charges against Khan included failing to disclose money he made on gifts from foreign dignitaries. Authorities said he purchased gifts at a discount from Toshakhana -- the state gift depository -- and then resold them for profit. The gifts were estimated to worth around $635,000.
The Pakistan government last year banned the former prime minister from holding office for at least five years due to the corruption scandal, which first surfaced in 2021.
An order issued by Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar and obtained by the Pakistan newspaper Dawn rejected Khan's move to dismiss the case and imposed a three-year sentence on the politician.
It declared Khan "has been found guilty of corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from the national exchequer willfully and intentionally.
"He cheated while providing information of gifts he obtained from Toshakhana which later proved to be false and inaccurate.
"His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt," the order added.
The PTI called Khan's arrest a "kidnapping" in a post on the social media platform X.
The former prime minister did not resist, the party said, even though they claimed Punjab police "beat up" his security guards and house staff. Khan has maintained his innocence and the party denounced the trial as a "kangaroo court," predicting Khan will emerge victorious from the legal battle.
In a message recorded before his arrest, Khan said, "By the time this message reaches you, I will be in jail. In the wake of my arrest, I want you to continue peaceful protests and not to sit quietly inside your houses."
The charges against populist leader have triggered several bouts of widespread violence by his supporters across Pakistan.
His initial arrest on May 9 sparked intense riots in which military and state installations were attacked by PTI party members. At least eight people died and 1,400 were arrested in connection with the violence, police said.