PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - A shopkeeper stands by his store in the Bagram Airfield bazaar Dec. 11. The bazaar brings in more than $30,000 into the local economy on a (click for more)
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A member of the AUP performs a search during an AUP-led operation with Company A, 1st Battalion, 168 Infantry Regiment in Jaji District Dec. 16. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Local children watch members of Kapisa PRT pass as they leave the Abdul Salam High School in Ghayn Valley Dec. 15. (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Maj. Ted A. Broome (right), and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Eleazar Vizcaino, both assigned to 358th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, evaluate a donkey at (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Haji Sher Badir, Manogai District subgovernor, speaks during the election ceremony for the Manogai District Community Council Dec. 9. (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Key elders listen intently while the U.S. and Polish ambassadors, Musa Khan, Ghazni provincial governor, and Amina Safi Afzaly, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, speak (click for more)
U.S. Army Maj. Loren Adams, veternarian from New Liberty, Iowa, supervises as an Afghan veterinarian puts final sutures into a neutered dog at a continuing education conference organized by the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Actor and comedian Robin Williams talks with U.S. Army Maj. Gen John F. Campbell, Combined Joint Task Force 101 and Regional Command East commander, before the (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, shakes a little girl's hand during the playground dedication at Ghazni City Orphanage in Ghazni Dec. 15. (click for more)
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Akhtar Jan, a resident of Nangarhar’s Behsood District convicted of kidnapping and committing two murders, was sentenced to death in Jalalabad’s main courthouse Dec. 23.
The trial broke new ground for transparency and judicial procedure for Nangarhar Province’s legal system.
Because the defendant was sentenced to death, he will have an opportunity to appeal to the Astinaf Makhema, Nangarhar’s appellate court, and then Afghanistan’s supreme court. If his conviction is upheld, President Hamid Karzai will have to approve it, explained Shane Kelbley of Philadelphia, Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team senior rule of law advisor.
There was fair public attendance at the trial and extensive coverage in the Afghan media, a positive development in a country where justice is often meted out in private.
“This trial was very fair and very good for the people of Behsood,” said Mullah Niamat, an elder in the Behsood District. “If we had more trials open to the press and the public, then it would greatly reduce crime in Behsood.”
Notably, the prosecutor called two witnesses during the trial: the defendant’s brother and uncle.
“This was the first public trial in which we’ve had witnesses (in Nangarhar),” Kelbley said. “Previous public trials had all relied on the prosecutor’s statements and maybe some pictures, but they haven’t called witnesses.”
The trial was also remarkable in that a taped confession was presented as evidence.
“Oftentimes I think the National Directorate of Security is moving toward that because of unsubstantiated allegations that they’re using police brutality or torture to extract confessions,” said Kelbley. “It’s a common tool used by defendants to say they were tortured into confessing.”
Kelbley said the public nature of the trial also counters insurgent propaganda about the corrupt, inequitable nature of Afghanistan’s evolving legal system.
“The Afghan justice system gets better every day,” Niamat said. “People talk about corruption in the courthouse, but there isn’t really that much corruption.”
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NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, continued operations in the Sherzad District Jan. 8 clearing the village of Toto of insurgent fighters to reinforce a foundation of security in the area.
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