IHC acquits former minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, others in Hajj corruption case

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday acquitted former Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi, former DG Hajj Rao Shakeel and Joint secretary for Religious Affairs Aftab Aslam in the Hajj corruption case.

In June 2016, a special court central, a lower court, sentenced both Hamid Saeed Kazmi and Aftab Aslam to 16 years in prison in the Hajj corruption case.

The same court also sentenced Rao Shakeel, former Director General (DG) of Hajj, to 40 years in prison.

The Islamabad High Court cross- examined 60 witnesses presented by the prosecution, to announce the verdict on Monday.

The Hajj corruption scandal led to the exit of both Hamid Saeed. A case was later registered against Kazmi leading to his arrest on March 15, 2011.

Kazmi was subsequently accused of corruption in the case on May 30, 2012, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Former Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi, former DG Hajj Rao Shakeel and Joint secretary for Religious Affairs Aftab Aslam were accused of hiring a substandard building on exorbitant rent (for housing the pilgrims in Makkah) and receiving kickbacks in the process.

A total of 35,000 Pakistani pilgrims were affected due to the sky-scraping charges.