Former religious affairs minister acquitted in Hajj corruption case  

Former religious  affairs minister  acquitted in Hajj  corruption case   

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday acquitted former minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi, former DG Hajj Rao Shakeel and former joint secretary Aftab Islam in Hajj corruption case.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani of the IHC announced the verdict, which was previously reserved by the bench in appeals filed by the accused against the judgment of the trial court. Kazmi and Aslam were sentenced to 16 years each in jail in the case in June last year.

Special Judge Central Malik Nazir Ahmad also sentenced then DG Hajj Rao Shakeel to 40 years in prison. The three convicts were also ordered to pay a penalty of Rs 150 million each.

The trio had filed appeals in the IHC, which sought complete relevant record from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The court, after a series of hearings, acquitted the three accused.

The Hajj corruption scandal surfaced in 2010 when the then Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati levelled corruption allegations against the then Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi. As a result of the exchange of accusations between the two sitting ministers, then Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani sacked both Kazmi and Swati from their offices.Reacting to Swati's allegations, the Supreme Court had also taken suo moto notice of the case.