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Kabul Mayor, Convicted Of Graft, Gives Presser Despite Order For Arrest

Mir Abdul Ahad Sahebi speaks to journalistsin Kabul today.

Mir Abdul Ahad Sahebi speaks to journalistsin Kabul today.

KABUL -- Kabul's mayor has given a press conference at his office -- despite an order being issued for his arrest following his conviction for corruption, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

On December 7, judicial officials said a court in the Afghan capital sentenced Mir Abdul Ahad Sahebi to four years in prison for corruption in connection with contracts on city projects, and fired him from his position.

But Sahebi told journalists at his office today he was innocent and that he had been the victim of a conspiracy by his rivals.

"I demand that a just review of my whole case be done by those who know the laws and regulations of this country," Sahebi said. "They should reassess my file. I can say that no one in my office has committed any crime."

Unconfirmed reports said Sahebi was briefly detained on the night of December 7 but released just a short while later.

It's unclear if the arrest order is still out on Sahebi or whether he has been reinstated in his position.

Deputy Attorney General Enayat Kamal told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan today it was his understanding Sahebi was no longer mayor.

"After the decision of the court, he is not mayor of Kabul and he should be arrested and put in prison," Kamal said.

Asked why Sahebi was not, as of today, in prison, Kamal declined to elaborate.

Sahebi's sentencing was the first such high-profile conviction since President Hamid Karzai promised to crack down on corruption as he began a new term in office last month.

The United States and other countries with forces in Afghanistan have urged Karzai to end corruption, which is seen as fueling the Taliban insurgency.