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Afghanistan frees graft case ex-minister: Govt

Last Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 21:28

Kabul: Afghan authorities on Thursday released a former minister, three days after he was arrested on charges of corruption, a government official said.

The attorney general`s office said former transport minister Inayatullah Qasimi would face trial for misuse of public funds and abuse of authority.

"Yes, I can confirm he has been freed," a senior official at the prosecutor`s office told a news agency.

The official, requesting anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said Qasimi was freed under orders from the country`s chief prosecutor, Mohammad Ishaq Alako. He gave no details.

A source close to Qasimi confirmed to AFP that the former minister had been freed.

Qasimi is accused of corruption and abuse of power while in office between 2004 and 2005.

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

On Tuesday the attorney general`s office announced the detention of president Hamid Karzai`s senior adviser Noorullah Delawari but hours later it denied he was arrested, saying simply that he had been taken to a detention centre to meet Qasimi, raising questions about possible government intervention.

Watchdog Transparency International rates war-torn, impoverished Afghanistan only just behind 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 reticent over voicing its concerns after the Afghan leader lashed out at the United States.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 21:28

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