Afghan prison commander jailed for 12 years for war crimes by Dutch court

Abdul Razaq Arif came to the Netherlands seeking asylum and became a Dutch national

Reuters April 14, 2022
A Taliban soldier walks on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 17, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS


An Afghan man was convicted by a Dutch court on Thursday of war crimes and torture for abusing political opponents at Kabul's Pul-e-Charkhi prison in the 1980s and was sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Judges said the man, 76, who had been calling himself Abdul Rafief, was actually Abdul Razaq Arif who served as commander of the prison between 1983 and 1990. They dismissed his testimony that he was the victim of a mistaken identity.

A lawyer for Arif said he would appeal.

Arif came to the Netherlands seeking asylum under the Rafief name in 2001 and has become a Dutch national.

He was being tried under "universal jurisdiction" principles, which say suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity can be prosecuted abroad if they cannot be tried in country where they were allegedly committed.

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According to prosecutors, Arif was responsible for political prisoners in the jail, who were held in inhumane conditions in the facility. Guards under his command beat, tortured and executed prisoners, they said.

During the trial prosecutors cited witnesses who identified "Rafief" as Arif to investigative judges. One victim told judges he still suffered sleepless nights from the psychological torture he underwent in prison.

In the 1980s, Afghanistan's Soviet-backed government was fighting a guerrilla war against "Mujahideen" rebels at the time, following the Soviet invasion in 1979.

The Netherlands has previously tried three high ranking officials of the Afghan military intelligence service for similar crimes in the same period in Afghanistan.


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