A Pakistani high court has turned down an appeal by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan to suspend his conviction on corruption charges, as the country’s parliament is set to be dissolved.
The move suggests it is unlikely the 70-year-old will be released on bail anytime soon.
It comes as Pakistan’s prime minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to advise the country’s president to dissolve parliament, paving the way for a general election by November.
Khan began a three-year jail sentence on Saturday in a prison near Islamabad for illegally selling state gifts and has been been barred from holding any public office for five years. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The parliament’s five-year term is due to expire on 12 August, but this move would dissolve it three days early.
The former cricketer has been at the centre of political turmoil after he was ousted last year as prime minister in a no-confidence vote, raising concerns about Pakistan’s stability as it grapples with an economic crisis.
Khan’s lawyer said the court asked the concerned authorities to respond to Mr Khan’s plea to be moved to an A-class jail cell in a prison in Rawalpindi, which has better facilities that he is entitled to as a former prime minister.
Naeem Panjutha said the case was adjourned for an indefinite time, adding; “Our request to suspend the conviction wasn’t accepted.”
The court will issue a written order later in the day.
Khan’s team says he is being kept in abject conditions
Khan, who has denied any wrongdoing, was arrested at his home in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday and is currently in a prison near the capital Islamabad.
His legal team says he is being kept in abject conditions in a small so-called C-class cell in a prison in Attock, with an open toilet, when he should qualify for a B-class cell with facilities including an attached washroom, newspapers, books and TV.
Saturday marked the second time Khan was arrested this year, having been held on corruption charges in May before Pakistan’s supreme court ordered his release days later.
It sparked a wave of deadly protests that saw Khan’s followers attack government and military property across the country.
Saturday’s arrest was the latest in a series of blows that have weakened his political standing after he fell out with the powerful military and his party splintered.
Ever since he has ousted, Khan has been campaigning for a snap election and organising protests, which led to significant violence on 9 May, raising tension with the military.
Khan accuses the military and his political opponents of plotting against him to block him from the election. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history, denies that.