Aides see political motive behind Shahrani’s trial

KABUL (Tolo News): Aides to the former minister of mines and petroleum, Wahidullah Shahrani, who was sentenced to 13 months in prison on charges of misuse of authority and fined $1.5 million by the Supreme Court, said a double standard has been applied to his case by the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s Office and that he is the victim of politics.

The Supreme Court said that Shahrani is accused of misusing his authority in awarding the contract for a cement factory in Herat and a coal mine contract in Sang-e-Pahlawanan district in Herat with an Iranian firm. Amir Mohammad Akhundzada, an aide to Shahrani, said that no attorney’s office has interrogated Mr. Shahrani but he has been sentenced to prison. The government has denied the claim.

“This is invalid. It is a political decision. I call on the Supreme Court and the chief justice as an Afghan to always ensure justice,” Akhudzada said. Shahrani’s aides said that they have not had any news on Shahrani over the last two days and they don’t know his whereabouts. The Supreme Court said that it has acted based on the law in Shahrani’s case.

“A comprehensive and widespread investigation was done into the former minister of mines who has been sentenced by the special court which was just and which gave him ample opportunities for a defense and to provide documents and evidence. The case has proceeded after the completion of the investigation,” said Jamshid Rasuli, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office. “The Afghan government has focused on light, symbolic and pollical moves in fighting corruption,” said Nasir Taimuri, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan. Shahrani was a cabinet minister during former president Hamid Karzai’s government. His aides said that the government should try those who are accused of corruption during the national unity government.