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Reuters, December 17, 2009

Karzai backs convicted officials

Abdul Ahad Sayebi, the Kabul Mayor and a Karzai appointee, was sentenced to four years in prison last week for corruption.

KABUL - Opening a three-day anti-corruption conference, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, defended the most senior of his officials to be convicted of graft in years.

Abdul Ahad Sayebi
Abdul Ahad Sayebi, the Kabul Mayor was sentenced to four years in prison last week for corruption.

The President spoke at length about the bribes ordinary Afghans are forced to pay and rebuked officials who "after one or two years work for the government, get rich and buy houses in Dubai."

However, he also cast doubt on the biggest anti-corruption conviction his prosecutors have achieved in years.

Abdul Ahad Sayebi, the Kabul Mayor and a Karzai appointee, was sentenced to four years in prison last week for corruption.

He is now free on bail, pending an appeal, and attended the conference, sitting toward the front.

"One very serious caution I want to say," Mr. Karzai said.

"The mayor of Kabul has been sentenced to four years jail. I know the mayor. He is a clean person. I know him."

He said Sayebi had been targeted by enemies for refusing to grant them government land, then gestured to his chief justice and attorney general demanding they look into the case, although he also said Sayebi should still go to jail if guilty.

Mr. Karzai's standing among the countries that have deployed nearly 110,000 troops to defend his government has plunged since he was re-elected Aug. 20. A UN backed probe found nearly a third of his votes were fake.

Category: Corruption - Views: 6488