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« Letter From Central Asia | Main | The People's DOJ »
Wednesday
Apr282010

Not What They Had In Mind

A U.K.-funded anti-corruption court in Afghanistan this week sentenced the manager of a British company that guards the British embassy in Kabul to two years in prison for bribery.

Bill Shaw, a 28-year British army veteran who retired as a major and was awarded the MBE, will be sent next week to one of the country's most notorious jails, Pul-e-Charkhi, according to reports from the Guardian and others.

Shaw was also fined $25,000. Convicted with him was an an Afghan, Maiwand Limar, who was also sentenced to two years in prison.

Shaw said he made what he believed were legitimate payments of $25,000 to gain release of two bombproof vehicles confiscated by Afghan security forces last year. He said he used an intermediary and tried for weeks to obtain an official receipt.

He was sentenced by three judges sitting on an anti-corruption tribunal that's funded largely by the U.K. Shaw's case was one of the first to come before the special court.

Shaw said he cooperated with Afghan investigators, giving interviews and returning to the country in early January after a vacation in the U.K. He was arrested on March 3rd.

Shaw's lawyer, Kimberley Motley, criticized the trial. "For some reason," she said, "[the tribunal] decided not to follow Afghan law or the U.N. conventions to which Afghanistan is a party. Furthermore, the presumption of innocence did not exist for him."

The U.S. and other Western countries have criticized Afghan President Hamid Karzai for corruption. But he has blamed foreigners for importing most of the graft. Now his government is apparently targeting expatriates. In addition to Shaw's prosecution, three Italian medical workers in Helmand were arrested and held briefly last month for plotting to murder the local governor. This month in Kabul, police raided at least five bars and restaurants popular with foreigners, alleging illegal sales of alcohol.

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