President Karzai prevented judicial murder

The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, probably prevented a judicial murder when he pardoned five men who were convicted for a bomb attack that killed one Finnish solider and injured three Norwegians in May this year, writes Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. Read a translation of the article below.

Updated: (12.12.2007)


New information from the Afghan authorities shows that the five men, who belongs to a religious network, were convicted in court proceedings in which basic demands for law and order were totally neglected.


The men were arrested short after a bomb attack on 23 May this year, which killed a Finnish solider and injured three Norwegians, and sentenced to death in a trial in the Faryab province that lasted only 1.5 hours.


They were then taken to Kabul for a new hearing in the court of justice. This trial limited itself to a reciting of the verdict from the first proceeding, before the sentence was confirmed. The death penalty was reduced to 20 years in prison.


The defendants were not given a lawyer, neither in the first nor second trial, according to the Afghan authorities


Protested

A group of elders and politicians from Faryab contacted President Hamid Karzai and made him aware that there had been some severe flaws in the court proceedings against the five men. They also stated that the five men were innocent.


Karzai consulted with the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice and came to the conclusion that the five men had to be released.


Serious flaws

The President’s free pardon created big attention when it was known through a spread in VG (Norway’s biggest newspaper. Ed) 10 days ago. Now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that they are pleased with the case being reinvestigated. The five men who were free pardoned might be arrested again if new evidence appear and indicate that they were involved. Some information indicated that there were seven men who were sentenced in the trial, but now it turns out that it was only five.


- The whole court proceeding has been coined by big flaws and has probably been politicized says Political Director Kai Eide, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Aftenposten. – This case shows that a reform of the justice and - and the police system needs to be higher prioritized.


By Tor Arne Andreassen, Aftenposten

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