Afghan ex-minister arrested over graft case

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 00:56

Kabul: Afghanistan`s former transport
minister was arrested on Monday on charges of misusing public
funds in a corruption case that cost the government more than
USD 9 million, an official said.

Inayatullah Qasimi, who was appointed minister in 2004
and served for less than two years, will face trial for misuse
of public funds and abuse of authority, said a spokesman for
the attorney general`s office.

He is the first former member of Hamid Karzai`s
administration to face charges relating to corruption,
although the Afghan President is under intense pressure from
his Western backers to crack down on official graft.

The losses were allegedly accrued in a deal signed off by
Qasimi to buy two new aircraft for state carrier Ariana,
spokesman Amanullah Iman said, without giving further details.

"(Qasimi) is accused of abuse of power and misuse of
public funds," said spokesman. "He is accused of causing
losses of nearly USD 9 million, and he will face trial."

Rahmatullah Nazari, Afghanistan`s deputy attorney
general, said in November that about 20 senior Karzai
government officials, including former ministers, were being
investigated over corruption charges.

But no action has yet been taken and there have been
allegations that Karzai has blocked investigations to protect
those closest to him.

Corruption pervades many aspects of Afghan life, from
police officers who demand bribes at ubiquitous roadblocks to
government ministers` involvement in theft of aid money and
drug trafficking.

Watchdog Transparency International rates the war-torn,
impoverished country only just above lawless Somalia in its
list of the world`s most corrupt countries.

Karzai is under intense pressure from his allies, the
United States and other Western nations, to crack down on
official graft.

The administration of US President Barack Obama publicly
pressed Karzai on the issue in 2009, but has become more
discreet with its concerns after the Afghan leader lashed out
at the United States.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 00:56
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