Britain convicts Afghan warlord

25 July 2005 by Franck Petit

Following Spain, Belgium and France, Britain is the fourth European country this year to try a non-national in a case of universal jurisdiction. In the first trial of its kind to be heard in England, an Afghan warlord, Farayadi Sarwar Zardad, 42, was convicted of torture committed in his home country before the Old Bailey criminal court in London. He was given a 20-year prison sentence on 19 July.

Zardad moved to Britain in 1998 seeking asylum and was running a pizza parlour in South London when he was arrested in 2002 after being uncovered by a BBC journalist. His conviction was established after a lengthy and costly proceeding, and after a first trial during which the jury failed to reach a verdict last year. British human rights organisations have hailed it as an historic victory. Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International said: "This case strengthens the legal principle that torture is an international crime and that there is no hiding place for torturers around the world."

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