What is Al-Qadir Trust case for which Imran Khan was arrested?

Legal experts say former prime minister’s arrest may violate recently amended laws.

Imran Khan, former Pakistan prime minister.
Khan has been slapped with more than 100 cases, including corruption, 'terrorism', since he was removed from power last April [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been arrested in connection with corruption involving the Al-Qadir University Trust, headed by the opposition leader and his wife Bushra Bibi, during a court appearance related to a separate case, in the capital Islamabad.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said in a statement on Tuesday that the former prime minister was arrested “for the crime of corruption” in the trust.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan confirmed that Khan, the leader of the main opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was arrested in a case pursued by the anti-corruption body.

“Imran Khan did not appear despite the notices, NAB has arrested him for damaging the national treasury. No violence was done to them,” the interior minister said in a tweet.

PTI leaders have denied the charges levelled by the interior minister, saying Khan had not been issued any arrest warrant before Tuesday.

Akbar Nasir Khan, a top police official in Islamabad, told Al Jazeera that NAB had issued an arrest warrant against Khan on May 1 in relation to the case.

Khan has been slapped with more than 100 cases – including corruption, “terrorism” and even blasphemy – since he was removed from power last April through a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

The 70-year-old denies the charges as politically motivated. He has also maintained that political parties joined forces with the country’s powerful military to remove him from power. He even accused the United States of conspiring in his removal – a charge he has since walked back.

What is the Al-Qadir University Trust case about?

Khan was arrested for an offence related to the Al-Qadir University Trust case. Last June, the new coalition government alleged that Khan and his wife obtained land worth billions of rupees for their trust from Malik Riaz, a major property tycoon of Pakistan, to build an educational institute.

The NAB has alleged that Khan’s PTI government struck a deal with Riaz that caused a loss of more than $239m to the national exchequer, in a quid pro quid arrangement with the real estate businessman.

In December 2019, Riaz agreed to hand over assets, including properties worth $239m, to United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency in an investigation related to “dirty money”.

Khan and his government were not directly linked to the case.

‘Procedure not followed’

Lawyer Abuzar Salman Niazi told Al Jazeera Khan’s arrest seemed to be illegal, citing changes made to NAB laws last year.

According to the Lahore-based lawyer, under the new amendments, the NAB must issue multiple notices to the accused. And warrants can be issued only in case of repeated failure to cooperate and “willfully and intentionally” avoiding arrest.

“Earlier, the chairman of the NAB had unbridled powers in terms of issuing arrest warrants for any accused. However, after the change in law, this cannot happen any more,” Niazi said.

Imran Shafique, a former prosecutor of the NAB and a lawyer based in Islamabad, said that, while NAB has the right to arrest an accused in case of their repeated absence, the case to keep the former prime minister detained “looks weak”.

“The NAB says they have issued multiple notices which Khan did not pay heed to. But according to the revised amendment, the authority not only has to complete its inquiry first, but also share the report with the accused,” the lawyer told Al Jazeera.

“The new laws make it much easier for the accused to get bail, so it could perhaps help Imran Khan,” he added.

Lahore-based lawyer Asad Rahim Khan said that Khan’s arrest has little to do with the law and everything to do with fear and persecution.

“Following changes to the NAB law, and given Pakistan’s more general principles of bail, accused persons cannot be arrested unless they are refusing to join the investigation, or are tampering evidence, or are considered flight risks,” he told Al Jazeera.

But in a statement issued after the arrest of the former prime minister, the NAB said Khan did not give respond to summoning notices.

“His arrest has been made in accordance with the NAB ordinance and the law,” the statement said.

Source: Al Jazeera