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Mon 23 Nov 2015 10:22 AM

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Haj tour operator jailed for gambling pilgrims' money

The man was jailed for 9 ½ yrs in the US for losing $1.3m at a casino near Disneyland

Haj tour operator jailed for gambling pilgrims' money

A US court has reportedly jailed a haj operator for gambling pilgrims’ money in a casino.

Rashed Minhas was sentenced to 9 and a half years’ jail for cheating a group of Pakistani haj pilgrims and then losing $1.3 million at a casino near Disneyland in California, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

He “lied to God” and deserved a harsh penalty, federal court judge Judy Grey Fiesman said, delivering the verdict.

Police told the court Minhas told the victims in emails that the Saudi Embassy had refused to issue their visas.

Judge Fiesman reportedly said the messages “were harsh and increased the nature of the crime against these poor people who trusted Minhas with their money”.

Minhas reportedly admitted to having deceived people who trusted him with their finances to realise their dream of performing haj, the annual Islamic ritual to the Saudi city of Makkah.

The court heard he had been a “thief”, “rude” and “deceitful” after “his conscience allowed him to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from poor people who made much efforts to save up for performing haj”.