Afghan warlord gets 20 years in prison
A former Afghan warlord convicted of torture and hostage-taking in his country was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in a British prison. It was the first time...
The Associated Press
LONDON — A former Afghan warlord convicted of torture and hostage-taking in his country was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in a British prison.
It was the first time anyone had been tried in Britain for torture in another country. Britain argues that serious crimes against humanity can be tried in any country and that it has a right to prosecute Faryadi Sarwar Zardad because he was arrested in England.
Zardad was convicted Monday for torture and hostage-taking in an area outside Kabul between Dec. 31, 1991, and Sept. 30, 1996.
"You were personally involved in these acts of torture and hostage-taking as well as authorizing your men," Justice Colman Treacy told Zardad, adding that he had been convicted of crimes which "transgressed the basic rights of humanity."
Raising his fist, Zardad shouted "Allah is great!" as he was led away.
Prosecutors said Zardad was in charge of the road from Kabul to Jalalabad in the Sarobi area from 1991-96, and his men set up checkpoints where they trapped and abused opponents.
"He and his soldiers wanted to create an atmosphere of fear and terror. He wanted a fearsome reputation for being cruel and merciless at his military checkpoints," prosecutor James Lewis told London's Old Bailey court.
Witnesses gave evidence via video link from the British Embassy in Kabul.
Another witness said he was held for months and was beaten so often that his family didn't recognize him. The court heard that Zardad fled his homeland in 1998, having fought both the invading Soviets and the Taliban. He came to London on a fake passport in 1998 and was managing a pizza parlor when he was arrested.
In November, an Old Bailey jury failed to reach a verdict at Zardad's first trial, and the Crown Prosecution Service ordered a retrial.
Police thwart attack
on hydropower dam
KABUL, Afghanistan — Police said yesterday they had thwarted a rocket attack against a major hydropower dam near Kabul, the latest threat to stability in Afghanistan ahead of parliamentary elections.
The news came after a suspected suicide bomber died in a failed assassination attempt against a district chief in western Herat province.
Acting on intelligence reports, police found 10 BM-1 rockets late Sunday in the mountains near the Surobi dam, the capital city's main source of electricity, said Gen. Shar Shah Yousefzai, police chief for Surobi district.
The BM-1 rockets — which were used widely during Afghanistan's protracted civil war — were found about three miles from the dam in a rugged area called Ozbin, Yousefzai added.
"We had received intelligence reports about this," he said.
Also yesterday, an alleged suicide bomber died in a failed attempt to assassinate a district chief in western Herat province — normally a peaceful area.
No other casualties were reported, according to provincial police chief Mohammed Ayub Salangi.
A recent surge in violence has left more than 700 people dead in three months. Much of the killing has been concentrated in the country's southern and eastern provinces.
The attacks threaten to sabotage three years of progress toward peace in Afghanistan that followed a U.S.-led invasion to oust the hard-line Islamic Taliban regime in late 2001.
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