Middle East

Oman jails former commerce minister for corruption

Mohammed bin Nasir al-Khusaibi (2010) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mohammed al-Khusaibi reportedly pleaded guilty to the charges

A former Omani commerce minister has been sentenced to three years in prison for corruption and fined $2m (£1.2m).

Mohammed al-Khusaibi was found guilty of paying bribes worth $1m to a former transport ministry undersecretary, Mohammed al-Amri, to win a contract linked to Muscat's airport expansion.

Amri was handed a three-year prison sentence and a $3.1m fine.

Khusaibi is the most senior official to be convicted as part of a campaign against corruption in the sultanate.

It was launched by the government following protests in several cities in 2011 inspired by Arab Spring uprisings elsewhere in the region.

A key demand of the demonstrators, two of whom died in clashes with security forces, was the sacking of ministers accused of corruption.

Prosecutors alleged that Khusaibi, in his time as minister, had bribed Amri to ensure that the airport expansion contract was given to a building firm in which he was shareholder, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC Oman).

Its director, Fathi Alaa al-Din, was convicted alongside them on Sunday. He was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $1m.

Khusaibi and Alaa al-Din pleaded guilty and expressed remorse, but Amri insisted he was innocent and had never accepted a bribe.

The government's campaign to "maintain transparency" has already seen a businessman jailed for 18 years and a former ports chief given a three-year sentence, according to the Oman Daily Observer.

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