Afghanistan on Edge
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|Frud Bezhan||December 23rd 2012|
A senior judge has been convicted of bribery and fired from his position after a perversion of justice exposed the invasiveness of corruption within Afghan society.
Zahoruddin, a 65-year-old judge in the country's eastern Nangarhar Province, who like many Afghans goes only by one name, was convicted on December 19 of bribery and corruption charges stemming from a young woman's divorce case. Zahoruddin and another judge apparently became aware that Dewa, a 22-year-old freelance journalist, had filed for divorce and conspired to extort bribes from her in exchange for ensuring her request was granted.
Zahoruddin contacted Dewa, offering to help. But upon meeting with the young woman, he demanded more than $2,000 in bribes. When his offer was refused, he offered an alternative -- entering a life of wealthy matrimony with none other than the judge himself. Unknown to the judge was that Dewa had come to the meeting armed with a hidden recording device. She recorded the entire 15-minute exchange. Dewa sent the recording of their conversation to the Supreme Court in Kabul and a criminal investigation ensued.Second Judge Investigated
Zahoruddin strenuously denied the allegations against him, insisting that his marriage proposal was merely a "joke." Upon being confronted with the evidence, the judge accused Dewa of fabricating the evidence as part of a conspiracy to discredit him. He said I wouldn't be alive to enjoy my freedom.
Zahoruddin's conviction is a rare success story. Despite President Hamid Karzai's repeated promises to clean up corruption, analysts say there have been few results from his initiatives, citing the government's failure to prosecute a single high-level corruption case.