Former Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdul Razaq Wahidi on Monday appeared before a special tribunal after being accused of corruption and misuse of authority.
The special tribunal was established to tackle cases against current and former government ministers accused of corruption and Monday’s hearing marked its first session. Monday’s hearing, held at the Supreme Court in Kabul, was presided over by a three-judge panel, led by Judge Zaman Sangari.
Wahidi has been accused of abusing his authority and embezzling revenue collected from the ten percent tax levied on mobile phone users.
The accused has rejected the claims and said the allegations have been part of a political conspiracy against him.
He also questioned the legitimacy of the court and described it as having been a dramatic move.
During Monday’s hearing, Wahidi said his case had been investigated under the chairmanship of the Attorney General and therefore the AG should have been present in court.
The state prosecutor, Hekmatullah, said: “Mr Wahidi has misused his authorities, he hired at least 37 people as contract staff with higher salaries despite there not having been any need for them.”
But Wahidi’s defense lawyer, Mohammad Ali Farhang, rejected the prosecutor’s claims.
“They have not clarified the amount of money they claim (Wahidi) embezzled, they are not providing any legal documents in this respect to show where Mr Wahidi has violated the law,” said Farhang.
The special tribunal is expected to determine its findings soon but no date has been set for its final verdict. Monday’s hearing was however adjourned to Friday.
Wahidi was suspended in January last year, after which President Ashraf Ghani appointed a panel to assess the collection process of the 10 percent tax levied on mobile phone users.
This came after the National Unity Government (NUG) imposed the new levy in 2016.
Earlier on Monday, deputy presidential spokesperson Shahussain Murtazawi said in a social media post that Monday’s hearing was the first time a former cabinet member would appear before the tribunal. He also said this was part of the ongoing efforts by government to root out corruption.