Ambassador Ludin expresses his condolances for death of Finnish Soldier

In a web article published on the home page of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 30th, 2007, Ambassador Jawed Ludin expressed his sympathy to Finland for the death of a Finnish ISAF soldier. Below is the article text:

Updated: (11.30.2007)

Afghanistan’s new Ambassador to Finland expresses his condolances

In a press conference at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Afghanistan’s new Ambassador to Finland, Mr. Jawed Ludin, on behalf of his country expressed the deepest sympathy to Finland for the death of Petri Tapio Immonen, who was killed in an ISAF operation in May. Seven people were sentenced in court for the killing, five of whom were freed later. According to the Ambassador, the only reason why they were freed was the fact that they had been sentenced on false grounds.

Ambassador Ludin assured that the sentenced persons did not go free as a result of political pressure, but it was only the question of correcting mistakes made in the course of the court proceedings. The decision about freeing them was made by President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai.

According to Ludin, Karzai made his decision to free the men after an investigation had been made about how the bomb attack that caused the death of Petri Immonen and injured three Norwegian soldiers had been handled in court. The members of the investigating committee included, for instance, the main prosecutor and the President of the Judiciary. The investigation had shown clear mistakes in the court process. Ludin pointed out that the investigation had shown that justice had not been done at the court as it should have.

Ludin told that among the participants in the investigation of the court case were, for instance, the main prosecutor and the President of the Judiciary. By releasing on bail five of the sentenced persons, President Karzai corrected gross mistakes made during the court proceedings. As examples of the mistakes made, Ludin mentioned, for instance, the fact that the sentenced persons had not had defensive counsels assisting them. Six of the accused had been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

According to Ludin, communicational mistakes were the reason why the information about the men having been freed already couple of months ago had not reached Finland or Norway. Information about the matter had been spread internally in Afghanistan according to normal practice. However, should any new information about the case emerge, the people in question could be returned to custody. It is possible to introduce new evidence in the case also through ISAF.

The Ambassador underscored that Afghanistan is only in the process of building up its judicial system. Mistakes are made and scandals certainly happen everywhere, but in a country like Afghanistan even this kind of thing is possible, he pondered. All we can do is learn from our mistakes in order to develop our country further with a view to the future. Ludin added that his country’s national parliament is already operational. This is a key for further development. On the other hand, the court case showed that Afghanistan still has a long way to go, he continued.

At the end of the press conference, Ludin reminded that outside assistance is essential for the development of Afghanistan. “We couldn’t manage without you,” he stressed. We value the fact that Finland is in Afghanistan and that is why I want to express my thanks to Finland and the Finns who are involved in assisting our country, the Ambassador added. We need time; it takes time to develop our country, he continued.

Ambassador Ludin, stationed in Oslo, said that earlier on the day he had presented his credentials to President of the Republic Tarja Halonen. Ludin said that he had also given a report to the President of the Republic about why the sentenced persons had been freed. President Karzai himself feels deep and personal sympathy for the death of Petri Immonen, the Ambassador said in conclusion.

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