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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – At a public trial held in the Governor’s Compound in Asadabad here July 27, Hafizullah Said Wali was convicted of impersonating an Afghan National Police officer, installing a false checkpoint along the main road from Asadabad to the Pech Valley, and robbing travelers.
More than 200 people watched as Wali received a 20-year sentence with 20 days to appeal the verdict.
One robbery victim testified that Wali was among the men who had stolen 550,000 Afghani, 650,000 Pakistani rupees, $370 U.S. dollars and 50 Euro from him. Police found a briefcase with the money along with police uniforms in the 24-year-old Wali’s room in a house in Watapur district.
Five additional suspects – known insurgents based in Watapur district – will be tried in absentia if they do not surrender to police.
Wali is currently serving a 12-year sentence for the attempted assassination of the Kunar Prisons Director. He was convicted at the first public trial in Kunar in March.
According to Abraham Sutherland, Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team Rule of Law representative, the trials highlight the importance of reducing corruption and inspiring the trust of the people.
“Kunar officials are working hard to establish an expectation of justice by holding regular scheduled, publicized and public trials in all criminal cases in Asadabad,” said Sutherland.
The case was brought by the national security prosecutor’s office and presided over by a panel of three judges: Asadabad Primary Court Chief Judge Amin Ashraf, Asadabad Primary Court Public Security Division Chief Judge Saraj u Din and Public Security Division Assistant Judge Khalilullah. Wali and his brother, who was acquitted of all charges, were represented by one of Asadabad’s newly appointed public defenders Mohammad Taheer.
A second trial was held immediately afterward where a man was convicted of purchasing fuel and cell phone credit with counterfeit Pakistani rupees. He was represented by Public Defender Malwai Mohammad Hashem and given one and a half years.
According to some of the spectators, through use of a translator, making the trials public help show that the government will not stand for corruption and will hold people accountable for their actions.
The trials were attended by numerous provincial-level officials from both the justice sector and several line ministries, as well as judges, prosecutors and investigators from Kunar's 14 districts including Kunar Provincial Governor Fazlullah Wahidi, Kunar Province Chief Judge Saed Alam Nikozay, Kunar Province Chief of Police Gen. Khalilullah Ziayee and Afghan National Police Criminal Investigation Division Chief Col. Abdul Ghafar.
Afterward, senior officials gathered to discuss the future of justice in Kunar.
Officials said they hope that courts in the 14 districts will begin holding trials in the near future, and according to Nikozay, the day’s two trials were valuable preparation for this.
“One day of practical training is worth six months of theoretical study,” said Nikozay.
Asadabad will continue to hold weekly public trials.
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