By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – A Pakistani court on Friday sentenced a former religious affairs minister to 16 years in jail for his role in a notorious Hajj corruption scandal that rocked the country in 2012.
Hamid Saeed Kazmi, who is also a senior leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, was convicted by Islamabad's district court for fraud, cheating, misuse of authority and causing losses to the national treasury and public.
The court also slapped two top Hajj Ministry officials, Rao Shakeel and Aftab Aslam, with 40- and 16-year jail terms respectively on the same charges.
The men were indicted for renting substandard buildings at inflated prices to Pakistani Hajj pilgrims, for which they received sizeable kickbacks.
They were immediately arrested following the indictments and sent to jail, although all three have the right to challenge their convictions in an Islamabad high court within the next seven days.