Islamabad: Pakistan's former Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi was on Friday sentenced to 16 years in prison over a Haj corruption case. Judge Malik Nazir Ahmad from special court central, a lower court, also sentenced Rao Shakeel, Director General (DG) of Haj, to 40 years in prison and jailed Joint secretary for Religious Affairs Aftab Aslam for 16 years, Dawn online reported. The verdict was announced after cross-examination of 60 witnesses presented by the prosecution which was concluded last week. Those sentenced have the right to appeal the decision in Islamabad High Court. Between 2010 and 2012, the Haj corruption scandal rocked the national political scene and led to the exit of both Hamid Saeed Kazmi and Azam Swati from the federal cabinet. The former Religious Affairs minister was slapped with allegations of involvement in the Haj corruption scandal and inflicting huge losses to the national coffers two years ago. After this, a case was registered leading to Kazmi’s arrest on March 15, 2011. Kazmi was subsequently indicted on charges of corruption in the case on May 30, 2012, to which he pleaded not guilty. They were accused of hiring a substandard building on exorbitant rent (for housing the pilgrims in Makkah) and receiving kickbacks in the process. A total of 35,000 Pakistani pilgrims were affected due to the high charges.