Landmark Public Trial Successfully Held in Khost Province; Two Kidnappers Sentenced to 16-years
A public trial for two-accused Afghan kidnappers was held in the Khost Provincial Court, marking a significant step forward in Afghanistan’s progression toward implementing the Rule-of-Law and solidifying a legal process for the accused.
The trial, which resulted in the conviction and sentencing of two Afghans, Alalqadar and Noorosman, marked only the second time that a public trial has taken place in Khost Province since the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan came to power.
“This was a huge step forward for the Afghan Justice System, the Rule-of-Law and the people of Khost,” said U.S. Army Maj. Anthony C. Adolph, staff judge advocate, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. “Word will spread quickly that the justice system in Khost works swiftly, effectively and fairly.”
The July 24 trial came about after the two Afghans, who worked as Khost security guards at nearby Forward Operating Base Chapman, kidnapped a local business owner, July 18. When cornered by Afghan National Police, the kidnappers engaged the ANP in a firefight, resulting in two bystanders being shot, one fatally.
After the two were taken into custody, the case was handed to Afghan National Army Col. Fazel Habibi, who is the embedded internal and external security prosecutor for Task Force Rakkasan.
Habibi immediately indicted the two on charges of kidnapping and felony murder.
“This trial marked the 12th and 13th indictments that Col. Habibi has brought to trial,” said Adolph. “Embedding a national security prosecutor at FOB Salerno has proven to be a successful concept.”
After careful investigation and review by Habibi, the case was heard by Chief Judge Hanan and Deputy Judge Aref.
Once both sides had presented their cases, the judges took a recess to review the case and make a decision.
Returning to the courtroom a short time later, the judges announced a guilty verdict on both men. Both were then sentenced to 16-years imprisonment.
A standing room only gallery of more than 50 Afghan citizens observed the trial alongside local media from four television stations, several local radio stations and print outlets.
“Increased security for the prosecutor and judges coordinated by the Afghan National Police, Task Force Rakkasan and the Afghan Embassy, along with a dedicated brigade rule-of-law staff judge advocate, is credited with making these trials possible,” said Adolph, a Brooklyn, N,Y. native. “Overall this trial was a huge success and was Afghan led from beginning to end.”
The judges assured coalition forces and Habibi that public trials will continue and they are excited with the progress and the future.
Article by Sgt. Brent Powell, Combined Joint Task Force 101