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Former govt high-ups go on trial on corruption charges

Former govt high-ups go on trial on corruption charges

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Jul 02, 2018 - 19:17

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Former government officials including a minister of communications and information technology went on trial on corruption charges in Kabul Monday.

Representatives of local and international organisations, as well as civil societyinfo-icon groups, were present in the courtroom to witness the high-profile trial.

A prosecutor argued the case against former minister Abdul Razzaq Wahidi and accused him of interfering in affairs of Communication Services Authority, recruiting contract officials and seven advisors on high salaries.

The former minister was also accused of controlling a 10 percent tax on mobile users. According to the prosecutor, the appointments made by the minister had damaged the state exchequer.

He prayed the court to sentence the ex-minister to long-term imprisonment -- a maximum 15 years -- in line with Article 285 of the crime law. The punishment will be applicable if the accused is indicted in the case.

But defence lawyer Mohammad Ali Farhang rejected the accusations leveled by the prosecutor. He claimed the case against his client was marred by several legal flaws.

He said the collection of the tax on mobile users was responsibility of the Finance Ministry and Communication Services Authority. As such, he argued, the former minister had no role in the tax recovery.

“The Attorney General Office (AGO) is being misled by a specific group and has thus got involved in acting on exaggerated stories, which are false and against the law,” he maintained.

According to the defence lawyer, corruption charges had been investigated 15 times by different delegations when Wahidi was still in office.

Wahidi demanded: “Instead of me, Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi, who resigned last week, should be standing in the dock today because the mobile tax collection is the responsibility of the Finance Ministry and Communication Services Authority.”

Judge Mohammad Zaman Sangari adjourned the trial after four hours of arguments. A future date for resuming the trail would be set after consultation with the parties involved, he said.

nh/mud

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