The former minister of mines, Wahidullah Shahrani, who was sentenced to 13 months in jail and fined $1.5 million on charges of misuse of authority by a special court, calls the ruling "against the law" and says that no defense attorney has interrogated him during this process.
He called the decision unjust.
“The decision was fully in contravention of the law… They didn’t interrogate me and neither did they have any document from me, nor did they visit me before this. They haven’t sent me any notice as an accused,” Shahrani told TOLOnews in a short interview via phone on Saturday.
The Supreme Court said that Shahrani is accused of misusing his authority in awarding the contract for a cement factory in Herat and a coal mine contract in Sang-e-Pahlawanan district in Herat with an Iranian firm.
“If the minister has not been interrogated, any decision and proceedings that have been made regarding him are invalid and cannot have legal impact,” said Arash Shahirpoor, a lawyer.
Shahrani was in custody in the Anti-Corruption Justice Center and was expected to talk to TOLOnews on Sunday, but his phone went off after his short interview with TOLOnews on Saturday evening.
This is the first time that a special court for ministers is putting a government official on trial for charges of corruption.
“The political dimension has been heavy rather than the anti-corruption dimension in many cases, and in the cases of a few individuals they have been put on trial. You cannot see any minister or lawmaker in Afghanistan’s prisons,” said Gul Ahmad Azami, a Senator.
“The list of cases of high-ranking government officials, including ministers, has not been shared for many years. Lack of transparency in this process opens the way for the government to politically influence it and ensure political interests instead of public interests,” said Nasir Taimuri, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.
The Attorney General’s Office said dozens of cases are under investigation at the Anti-Corruption Justice Center.
“In 1399 (2020) fiscal year, at least 270 cases of corruption in public offices were investigated by the Anti-Corruption Justice Center. The investigation of many of them were completed and decision was made regarding them based on the law,” said Jamshid Rasuli, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to former commerce minister Mohammad Seddiq Farhang, who is accused of corruption, summoning him to the court within 20 days, otherwise, a trial will be held in his absence.