ISLAMABAD: Special trial court in Islamabad on Friday sentenced former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi to 16 years in prison in Hajj corruption case. Hamid Saeed Kazmi was arrested from the court premises after the announcement of the judgment.

The two other accused in the scam, former additional secretary to ministry of religious affairs Aftab Ahmed and former director-general Hajj Rao Shakeel were sentenced to 16 years and 40 years in prison respectively.

Judge Malik Nazir Ahmad from special court central, a lower court was hearing the Haj corruption case.

The Hajj scam had surfaced in 2010 after the then Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati accused ex-religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi of corruption following which the Supreme Court in 2010 took suo moto notice of the case.

Kazmi, Rao Shakeel and Aftab were accused of indulging in widespread corruption during the course of renting residential buildings for Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and causing a loss of a billion rupees to the national exchequer. Most of the buildings rented by the Hajj administrators were 5 kilometres away from the Haram Sharif, while according to law the accommodation for pilgrims should not be more than two kilometres away.

The case was registered leading to Kazmi’s arrest on 15th March, 2011 but he was granted bail by a Rawalpindi court in August 2012.

In its decision in 2013, the Supreme Court had ordered FIA to carry out thorough investigation of this case.

Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had sacked both Kazmi and Swati from their offices.

On 2nd Sep, 2009, Kami had survived an apparent attempt on his life by motorcycle-borne gunmen who shot at his car near a bustling market in the capital.

The driver of the vehicle was killed on the spot, while a security guard was wounded.

The ex-minister was wounded in the leg and underwent surgery for fractures. While the police did not comment on the possible motives for the drive-by attack. The sentenced have the right to appeal.