RAWALPINDI: A trial court reserved its judgement in the 2010 Hajj corruption scam case on Wednesday and stated that it will be announced on Friday, May 25.
Special Judge Central Mian Khalid Shabbir presided over the hearing of an acquittal plea of former federal minister for religious affairs and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Member of National Assembly (MNA) Hamid Saeed Kazmi.
Kazmi appeared before the court along with two other accused in the scam, former additional secretary to ministry of religious affairs Raja Aftabul Islam and former director-general Hajj Rao Shakeel.
Kazmi’s counsel, Sardar Nasir, contended before the court that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) did not have any evidence against Kazmi and that the witnesses cited by the investigative agency in the report had already said that he had no connection with any kind of corruption during the Hajj process.
Nasir further said that the former minister for religious affairs was being accused of renting out 87 residential buildings far away from the Kaaba at exorbitant prices, but he was not being given any benefit by the prosecution for 129 residential buildings he rented out at normal prices according to the market rates back then.
Kazmi, Shakeel and Islam were accused of indulgence in widespread corruption during the course of hiring residential buildings for Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and inflicting a loss of Rs1 billion to the national exchequer.
A Saudi prince had also written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan in this regard.
Most of the buildings purchased by the Hajj administrators are 5km away from the Haram Sharif, while according to laws, the accommodation should not be more than 2km away. The administration showed the rent to be Saudi Riyal 3,600 (maximum expenditure assigned by Hajj Policy 2010) while the actual fare was Saudi Riyal 2,500.