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Colleagues want Nuristani expelled from Senate

Colleagues want Nuristani expelled from Senate

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Dec 17, 2019 - 15:50

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Some Meshrano Jirgainfo-icon members on Tuesday termed lawmaker Yusuf Nuristani’s conviction by the US federal court as disgraceful and called for revoking his Senate membership.

Former Independent Election Commission Nuristani has pleaded guilty in the US federal court to Theft of Public Money, admitting that he received over $100,000 in government benefits by concealing foreign travel and residency between July 2015 and December 2018, a statement from the US Justice Department said on lost Sunday. 

During a hearing before US Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford, Nuristani admitted that he applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration in July 2015.  Nuristani acknowledged that he knew an SSI recipient must reside within the United States, and that he was required to report any travel outside of the United States lasting more than thirty days. 

Nuristani admitted to concealing and repeatedly lying to the Social Security Administration about his foreign travel and residency, and to receiving $27,492.44 in SSI payments and to causing a loss of $73,090.34 to the State of California for health care payments and services as a result of his fraud. 

Nuristani, 71, is a former Fulbright Scholar and has been a prominent politician in Afghanistan for many decades.  He has previously served as the governor of Herat province, and was the chairman of the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistaninfo-icon during their last presidential election. 

In September 2018, President Ashraf Ghani appointed Nuristani to the Meshrano Jirga, the upper body of parliament in Afghanistan.  Nuristani served as both the head of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission and as an Afghan senator even as he received SSI at his claimed address in El Cajon, California. 

Reacting to former IECinfo-icon chief Nuristani’s conviction by the US court, the Afghan government on Monday said “crime is a personal act.”

“Crime is a personal act, nobody is above the law anywhere,” wrote Presidential Spokesperson SediqSediqi in his twitter account.

He said Nuristani has Afghan and US citizenship. “If he has broken law in the US, the judicial organs of that country have the right to try him and convict him”, he added.

Rahmatullah Achakzai, a Meshrano Jirga member from southern Kandahar province, said: “It’s very shameful that an active senator is sentenced by the US court, dual nationals should be a senator in Afghanistan.” He called for Nuristani’S removal from the Meshrano Jirga.

His colleagues from southern Zabul province, Zalmay Zabuli held similar views and said: “There are a large number of talented people and one of them should replace Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani in the Senate.”

A number of other urged the dismissal of Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani from the Meshrano Jirga.

But Senate chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar said Nuristani has been sentenced as a US citizen, not as member of the Meshrano Jirga of Afghanistan.

He said If Nuristani had committed any crime inside Afghanistan as a senator, he and all those involved in crimes should be prosecuted under the law.

He said as now the issue had occurred outside Afghanistan and the Meshrano Jirga could not interfere in this regard.

pk/ma

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