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Afghan court tries, convicts three men

Release No: UNRELEASED Aug. 3, 2010 PRINT | E-MAIL

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Aug. 3, 2010) – Three Afghan men who are currently detained at the Detention Facility in Parwan were sentenced to serve time in an Afghan prison after an Afghan court found them guilty of crimes under Afghan law during trials held Aug. 1 at the Justice Center in Parwan.

The defendants were convicted of violating Laws on Crimes Against Internal and External Security Article 9, Organizational Activities Against Internal and External Security, Article 5, Subversive Activities, kidnapping and possessing illegal weapons and explosive materials.

In the first trial, two defendants were accused of being members of an illegal terrorist group and subversion.  According to court records, the men were detained in 2008 during a raid targeting suspected insurgents where they were found with improvised explosive device components and explosives, among other materials.  Insurgent propaganda materials were also recovered from the capture site.  One defendant tested positive for explosive residue after chemical testing.

Both defendants testified and attempted to blame each other for the IED materials and explosives recovered at the site, according to court records.

During the trial defense attorneys raised objections to the capture and detention of the men based on constitutional arguments suggesting that the Coalition capture and detention of Afghan citizens is illegal. 

The second trial had one defendant.  According to court records, the man was found in a compound where Coalition forces had received small-arms fire.  The defendant was found near a small prison on the compound where 15 Afghans were being held hostage.  Thirteen of the Afghans identified the defendant as a member of the Taliban and as the man who guarded the prison.  A weapons cache, including rockets, was also found at the site.

During the trial the defendant rejected the assistance of defense counsel despite the head judge’s repeated recommendations.  The defendant denied the charges against him and claimed that he used the rockets found with him for farming.   After examining the evidence the three-judge panel found the defendant guilty of kidnapping, weapons-related charges and being a member of an illegal terrorist group.

Under Afghan law, defendants have 20 days to make an appeal.

While detainees are currently held at the Detention Facility in Parwan under the Law of Armed Conflict, the government of Afghanistan investigates and prosecutes criminal cases at the JCIP and considers criminal charges under the Afghan Penal Code.

The cases were presented by Afghan prosecutors and the accused were all given the opportunity to be represented by Afghan defense attorneys.  A panel of three Afghan judges presided over the cases.

These trials, the second and third to be held at the JCIP, are indicative of significant steps that are being made toward transitioning detention operations and associated judicial processes from the United States to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.