PAN, June 9, 2012
Minister, mayor accused of 22m USD landgrab
By Abasin Zaheer
Ismail Khan (left) and Salim Taraki.
Water and Energy Minister Ismail Khan and Herat Mayor Mohammad Salim Taraki have encroached upon the properties belonging to Afghan Millie Bank’s founder Majid Zabuli, an official said on Saturday.
High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC) Chairman Dr Azizullah Lodin accused the minister of grabbing Zabuli’s residence in Herat. By the same token, the mayor had illegally occupied the banker’s market, he alleged.
At a news conference in Kabul, Lodin put the value of the house and market at $22 million (1,100 million afghanis). An HOOAC team with representatives from eight ministries, sent to Herat in 2004, confirmed the officials’ involvement in seizing Zabuli’s assets.
A case against the men was referred to the Attorney General Office (AGO) in 2006, but former deputy attorney general Rahmatullah Nazari denied receiving the lawsuit, Lodin added.
Despite denials, the AGO sent letters to the authorities in Herat and Nangarhar regarding the seizure of Zabuli’s properties. The official also showed reporters a set of documents that he characterised as evidence of the land-grab.
The inspection of the embezzlement of a large amount of money in Sardar Daud Khan Hospital is starting to get serious. The NATO command has authentic and conclusive evidence that a big part of advanced medical equipment which was at the disposal of the health department of the Ministry of Defense has been stolen. The amount stolen is said to be 42 million US Dollars…information from NATO sources stated that from the 42 million USD embezzled, 28 million USD was poured into Bismillah Khan’s (Interior Minister) account as his share.
Chash Andaz (RAWA Translation), Mar. 25, 2012
Lodin went on to reveal that Taraki, while regularly receiving the market rent, had also grabbed 1,500 acres of land around Zabuli’s residence in the western province.
But the mayor, furiously rejecting the allegations, hit back at the HOOAC head. “Like lunatics, Lodin is blurting out all that comes to his mind,” remarked Taraki, who said an accused could not be named before a court verdict.
On May 26, the Zabuli Foundation blamed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for grabbing 58.5 acres of land belonging to Zabuli. A representative of the foundation said another 25 acres of land was seized in Jalalabad by an individual known as Syed Karim Baha.
With regard to administrative corruption in the country, Lodin said: “It’s impossible to eradicate the scourge as long as the government doesn’t have a strong political will to deal with the challenge.”
He continued the HOOAC had dispatched graft cases to AGO against “strongmen” in senior government positions, but no action had been initiated against them so far.
Without naming the powerful individuals, Lodin said: “The media has been after me ever since I spoke of Ismail Khan’s involvement in land-grab cases. What if I name others?”
In Afghanistan, he complained, law applied to the people who had no political backing. The anti-corruption official also repudiated rumours that he was seeking political asylum in a foreign country.
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