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Oman: Five charged in land scandal

Housing ministry employees accused of extending favours to senior officials and exploiting their positions

Gulf News

Muscat: Five Housing Ministry employees are facing criminal charges for allegedly forging documents for the illegal acquisition of land in the capital.

According to a report in local Arabic daily Azzamn, the five accused are also charged with misusing the power entrusted to them in extending favours to a former minister’s nephew as well as relatives of some top government officials.

The Public Prosecution has charged the five with violating regulations and has asked the court to punish them for “compromising state property”.

The five are also accused of misusing information they were privy to after they allegedly bought land they knew was key to a planned expressway project. They allegedly bought land in Barka, Saham and Khaboura in areas which the Batinah Expressway is expected to cut through, before dividing this land into residential plots.

According to prosecutors, the five allegedly planned to make a fortune in the compensation they would have received for vacating the land to make way for the expressway project.

The prosecution presented visual evidence in court about how and where the land was taken.

However, the defence has asked the court for the Prosecution’s presentation to study it before the next hearing on April 17.

In another land graft case, a Higher Committee for Town Planning official was granted a piece of land in the Al Ghubra area of Muscat under suspicious circumstances.

The daily said the official, using a relative’s name, used the residential land for commercial purposes after establishing an tourism-related business. Prosecutors have also accused the official of failing to secure the permission of the Tourism Ministry before converting the property into a tourism-related project.