Afghan refugees register to vote
BBC News / Friday, 1 October, 2004
Afghan refugees living in Pakistan are registering to vote for presidential elections a week on Saturday.
Refugees living in Iran and Pakistan could make up a significant 10% of the total vote, the UN said this week.
Between 600,000 and 800,000 Afghans in Pakistan are eligible to vote. A further 400,000-600,000 potential Afghan voters are living in Iran.
The authorities are organising special polling stations at refugee camps in both countries.
Reports say hundreds of Afghans, including women, have lined up at special registration centres near the Pakistani cities of Quetta in Baluchistan and Peshawar in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
"We have got this opportunity to vote for the first time in our lives, and we will participate in the election process," the Associated Press quotes an Afghan woman, Sajida Ibrahim, as saying.
Millions of Afghans fled to Pakistan to escape the fighting in their country.
At least a million still live in sprawling refugee camps dotted along the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border.
"Now I will have a say in the affairs of my country," another refugee, Saifuddin, said soon after registering to vote at the Chachagari camp outside Peshawar.
The registration process is scheduled to go on until Sunday. Some 1,670 polling stations will be set up in western Pakistan where most refugee camps are based.
Up to another two million Afghans are thought to be living in towns and cities elsewhere in Pakistan. They will not have a vote.
Around 20,000 local and international staff have been employed in both Iran and Pakistan to help organise and facilitate the vote.
UN officials have said that some poll officials have received anonymous phone threats and that pamphlets have been circulated among the Afghan community in Pakistan warning them not to vote.
Late on Thursday Afghanistan's former Taleban rulers urged the country's people to boycott the poll.
"These are not independent and just elections, neither do they reflect the will of the people of Afghanistan," said a statement from Taleban spokesman Hamid Agha, issued in Peshawar.
"The Muslim people of Afghanistan know that the so-called elections are in fact a foreign project to justify the US forces' occupation."
Voting for Afghanistan's presidential takes place on 9 October but it could be weeks before votes are tallied and a result is known.
Interim president Hamid Karzai is the favourite to win and is being challenged by 17 candidates.
Afghan refugees brave threats to register for historic vote
QUETTA, Pakistan, Oct 1 (AFP) - Afghan refugees lined up under tight security in Pakistan Friday to register to vote in their homeland's historic presidential election, as fears that militants would try to disrupt the process were heightened by a Taliban appeal to Afghans to boycott the vote.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) anticipates 600,000 to 800,000 refugees will register mainly in western Pakistan over the next three days, in what it says is the world's largest ever out-of-country registration and voting exercise.
"The registration has started smoothly... All indications are that the registration is going well," IOM spokesman Greg Bearup told AFP.
Some 1.1 million Afghans still live in crude refugee camps in Pakistan and an estimated half a million to two million have settled in its towns and cities.
The majority of registration centers are in western border areas, where fighters loyal to the Afghanistan's ousted Taliban rulers have been regrouping and orchestrating guerrilla attacks inside Afghanistan.
Concerns that militants would launch attacks to disrupt the registration and voting on October 9 were heightened by a statement issued to newspapers in the northwestern city of Peshawar late Thursday and signed by a purported Taliban spokesman, Hamid Agha.
"We appeal to the people of Afghanistan and particularly the refugees not to support or participate in the procedure, for the sake of their national honour and faith," it said.
The proximity to insurgent bases along the mountainous frontier, plus threats made by telephone to electoral staff and carried in "night letters" circulated among refugees have also raised security fears, especially in this southwest city of Quetta.
The Baluchistan provincial capital lies just 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Afghan frontier. Several Taliban commanders are at large in the Quetta region and some of the city's Koranic schools are used as recruiting grounds by the Taliban, according to Afghan authorities.
The Pakistan government is providing police to protect the registration centers, where the vote will be conducted on October 9, but on the eve of registration Quetta police decided to intensify security.
"We have intensified police patrolling," Baluchistan province police chief Chaudhry Yaqoob told AFP, declining to explain why patrols were stepped up at the last minute.
Refugees can register in border camps, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad, Pakistan's capital.
Some 400 Afghans lined up in a refugee camp near northwest Peshawar city bordering Afghanistan amid reports of a boycott at another registration site.
"Thank God, we are seeing a day that will lead us to peace and prosperity in my country," Haji Sher Muhammad, 80, told AFP in Jalozai refugee camp on the outskirts of Peshawar after he appeared from a clay-made registration room.
IOM community mobilizer Salahuddin, who uses only one name, told AFP that refugees at Shamshatoo camp, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) away from Jalozai camp, boycotted the registration.
Shamshatoo is considered a stronghold of Hezb-i-Islami guerrilla faction led by former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
"We have heard that Afghans in Shamshatoo camp boycotted the registration and did not allow registration centers to be set up inside the camp," Salahuddin, who like most Afghans has one name, said.
"Since we are so busy with this process, we don't know why they have boycotted," he said without elaborating.
Afghan warlord Hekmatyar, who is wanted by Washington for terrorism, last week urged Afghans to boycott this month's presidential election in protest at their "puppet government"
More than four million Afghans fled to Pakistan over the past quarter century to escape fighting and drought, of which some two million have returned.
Pakistan, which backed the five year Taliban regime until dropping them in the wake of the September 11 attacks, denies accusations that it allows Taliban fighters to operate out of its border region.
Pashtun tribesmen to help secure vote in Afghanistan
KABUL, Oct 1 (AFP) - Fiercely independent Pashtun tribes in troubled southeastern Afghanistan will provide thousands of armed volunteers to help secure the Afghan presidential elections next week, officials said Friday.
The volunteers will be men known as Arbakies, who assist tribal elders in the southern provinces of Paktia, Paktika and Khost with enforcing decisions when they are not tilling their fields and doing ordinary jobs.
"Around 1,500 Arbakies are going to support Afghan national police and army in providing security for the elections in Paktia province," provincial governor Assadullah Wafa told AFP.
In neighbouring Khost province some 1,800 Arbakies will help secure electoral sites, said Pir Saeed Shah, director of the province's joint electoral commission.
Rights organisations have expressed concern ahead of the October 9 elections that armed militias under the control of regional warlords will influence the way people vote.
The Arbakies are not militiamen, being part-time tribal enforcers. But in Khost last week, one Pashtun tribe broadcast a radio message ordering all tribe members to vote for US-backed incumbent President Hamid Karzai.
If they did not, the broadcast said, their houses would be burnt down.
Afghanistan is a country which has handled most of its national issues through Jirgas, or tribal councils, which command far more authority in the Pashtun tribal belt than national government officials.
Whenever there are security threats in southeastern Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces, which have been hit by a Taliban-led insurgency, the tribal volunteers are called in to defend the interests of their tribe.
Taliban militants who were ousted by a US-led military campaign in late 2001 have vowed to disrupt the vote, the first of its kind in the Afghanistan's history.
Providing security has been a headache for election officials, especially in the south where President Hamid Karzai must draw support from the same communities which have backed the Taliban in the past.
More than 18,000 US-led troops will provide quick-reaction forces for voting problems in the south and southeast, with over 8,000 NATO-led peacekeeping troops in Kabul and the northern provinces.
Most of the security, however, will be provided by a poorly trained Afghan police force and the fledgling Afghan army.
Old warlord traditions die hard in modern Afghanistan
By David Fox / October 1, 2004
HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The road from Herat airport to the city centre is lined with the billboard portraits of hundreds of Afghan fighters killed in the last 25 years of conflict.
The portraits are almost identical -- soft eyes gazing out from beneath black and white turbans, wistful smiles just visible behind bushy beards.
This is how veteran warlord Ismail Khan ensures loyalty from his fighters in Herat, Afghanistan's second-biggest city and its most prosperous. After death, or rather martyrdom, the fighters will be remembered.
"People are prepared to fight and die for Ismail Khan because they know that their families will be looked after," said Farouk Ghabool, a prominent doctor originally from the capital, Kabul.
"Traditions are still followed here, and Ismail Khan is still regarded as the leader of the Herat people by many."
Khan's position highlights the challenges faced by Afghanistan as it prepares for its first direct presidential election on Oct. 9 following nearly three decades of conflict.
Khan, an ethnic Tajik, fought against the decade-long Soviet occupation that started in 1979 and then against the fundamentalist Taliban who capitalised on the internecine fighting that erupted after the Soviet army's retreat.
Now he is at odds with the central government. Earlier this year his forces clashed with those of another regional strongman leaving scores of casualties -- including his own son.
Kabul said Khan has been reluctant to allow his forces to be demobilised or integrated into the new Afghan army. Khan saw the strategy as a ploy to weaken his position and impose leadership by ethnic Pashtuns over Tajiks.
Dismissed as governor of Herat last month by President Hamid Karzai, a member of Afghanistan's majority Pashtun community, Khan now cuts something of a tragic figure.
Surrounded by the small troop of bodyguards he has been allowed to retain, Khan -- dressed in traditional robes and skull cap, a rich white beard falling on his chest -- spends his days holding court at his sprawling residence, receiving petitions from followers and granting audiences to Karzai's rivals.
On Tuesday it was powerful fellow Tajik, Defence Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim, who used his visit to Herat to criticise Karzai for isolating war heroes such as Khan. On Friday it was the turn of Yunus Qanuni, considered the biggest threat to Karzai of the 17 candidates running against him for the presidency.
Across town, at the governor's headquarters now occupied by former ambassador to Ukraine Sayed Mohammad Khairkhwa, business is more brisk. Government officials hurry through the hallways in Western suits. United Nations officials wait for meetings and the governor seems too busy to see anyone.
Khan has run Herat, a city of two million people, as a virtual fiefdom for years. He has been credited with ploughing much of the revenue gained from taxes on cross-border trade with nearby Iran into projects that benefit the community such as parks, mosques, libraries and roads.
While taking advantage of Khan's largesse, some people are slowly drifting away from him.
"He has been a very good leader, but that was during the times of war," said Sayeed Azzizullah, as he sat down for a picnic with his family in a park built by Khan.
"Most of my family think it will be better this time to vote for Karzai. We need a president who is known outside Afghanistan to help the country."
His sentiment appears backed up by the campaign pictures of Karzai plastered all over the city -- except for buildings associated with Khan. But old habits die hard.
At the centuries-old mausoleum of poet-philosopher Khaja Abdullah Ansari, burqa-clad women and wizened old men touched huge tablets of Koranic inscriptions while praying.
"I have come to ask Allah to help my family," said Fatima, whose husband was killed in a car crash three weeks ago. "I will also go to see Ismail Khan and the governor."
God first, followed by Khan and the central government.
Afghan Candidates Stump for Peaceful Vote
Associated Press / October 1, 2004 By PAUL HAVEN
KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's vice president on Friday urged his countrymen to participate in historic presidential elections, saying a failed vote could lead to renewed war and bloodshed in a nation that has endured both for decades.
Karim Khalili told about 2,000 people at a Shiite Mosque that the Oct. 9 election was a major step toward bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan. But he gave no specifics on what he President Hamid Karzai would do with five more years in power.
"All Afghan people should participate in the election. If they don't, I'm sure those who favor war and all the problems of the past will prevail," said Khalili, who is also a Shiite Muslim and a member of the nation's Hazara ethnic community.
Khalili did not mention Karzai's name during his remarks, and said he hoped only that all Afghans vote for the candidate they prefer.
It was one of the few campaign rallies held in Afghanistan ahead of the vote. Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum drew about 8,000 people to a rally in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif earlier this week. Another candidate, former Education Minister Yunus Qanooni, was holding a rally that drew several hundred people in the western city of Herat on Friday.
Karzai's office had hinted he might attend the gathering Friday at Khatam-ul-Anbiya, one of the largest Shiite mosques in Kabul, but the president did not show up.
Karzai, the overwhelming favorite to beat 17 rivals, has rarely ventured into public since formal campaigning began last month, though he inaugurated a new museum in Kabul earlier in the week. He escaped a Sept. 16 attack on a U.S. military helicopter taking him to a school-opening in the eastern city of Gardez.
Khalili told the crowd that the Oct. 9 vote would send a message to the world that "Afghans want peace, security and stability in their country."
"We Afghan people have been at war for more than 20 years. We have passed through a very difficult period, but finally we have reached the day where we will have an election in our country," he said.
About 400 supporters of a rival Shiite Muslim candidate, Mohammed Mohaqeq, gathered outside the mosque, waving banners for Mohaqeq and shouting that it was time for Karzai to leave office.
"We don't want Karzai to be in power forever," said Hafiz Ahmad, 22. "There should be an opportunity for other people. We need jobs. We need security, and we need help for the refugees who are coming back to the country."
About 50 Afghan police were on hand, but there was no violence.
Another man, Ahmed Zia, said he would vote for Karzai, who is a member of Afghanistan's Pashtun majority.
"Even though I am a Hazara like Mohaqeq, I plan to vote for Karzai," Zia said. I don't think we should vote based just on ethnicity."
DAILY AFGHAN REPORT
September 30, 2004
Source: Radio Free Afghanistan (Part of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)
U.S., UN Officials Expect Afghan Elections To Go Forward, But Warn Of Violence
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee that the Afghan presidential election on 9 October will be a success, although he expects militants will try to disrupt the process, "The New York Times" reported on 29 September. Armitage said resurgent Taliban forces might try to derail the election process "by attempting a large-scale attack on election day itself." Speaking before UN Security Council on 28 September, UN Undersecretary-General for peacekeeping operations Jean-Marie Guehenno said that he expects the Afghan elections to take place "in the atmosphere of safety" despite the fact that multiple "incidents across the country on or around elections day cannot be excluded," AP reported. While much international concern appears focused on the security aspect of the elections, human rights groups and Afghans in general are reportedly concerned about the fairness of the process due to issues other than simply security (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 2004).
NATO General Assures Afghan Leader Of Election Security
NATO Joint Forces Commander General Gerhard Back told Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai in Kabul on 29 September that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is fully prepared to ensure security during the forthcoming presidential election, Radio Afghanistan reported. Back also indicated that ISAF and Afghan military and police forces are preparing to improve security for the parliamentary elections due to take place in Afghanistan in April 2005. At a June Summit in Istanbul, NATO leaders agreed to support those two election processes (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 18 June and 1 July 2004). AT
German And Swiss Soldiers Injured In Northern Afghanistan
Two German soldiers and a Swiss colleague attached to the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Konduz Province were injured on 29 September when their camp came under attack, ddp reported. According to an unidentified German Defense Ministry spokesman, the soldiers were injured when a grenade hit the PRT camp. The PRT camp houses approximately 270 troops and 30 civilians and is one of five PRTs under NATO command. Germany, with around 1,500 troops, is the largest contributor to the 8,000-strong ISAF. AT
Clash Reported Between Karzai And Qanuni Supporters In Western Afghanistan...
A number of supporters of presidential candidate Mohammad Yunos Qanuni marching in protest on 28 September in Herat city reportedly clashed with supporters of Chairman Karzai, Sada-ye Jawan radio reported on 29 September. Qanuni is widely considered to be among the strongest of Karzai's 17 rivals for the presidency. The argument between the two camps apparently resulted in the removal of Qanuni posters by Karzai supporters. However, in a sign of reconciliation after the fracas, Karzai supporter Khalil Ahmad Taymori said instructions to his team are "not to stick Hamid Karzai posters over the posters of other candidates," according to the radio report. AT
...But Police Deny The Incident Ever Took Place
Mohammad Amin Hokumat, a security officer in Herat, denied the report of clashes between supporters of Karzai and Qanuni, Sada-ye Jawan reported. "Such incidents [clashes] did not take place in Herat," Hokumat said, adding that the security forces "were ready to tackle any kind of incidents in the city." Hokumat advised citizens in Herat to be calm and patient and "vote for the person they like most." "It's not good to insult one another and tear down posters of the candidates," Hokumat added. AT
Afghanistan: Commission continues to deliver on its reconstruction pledge
Source: European Commission / October 1, 2004
As part of its € 400 million package to Afghanistan for 2003-04, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Sixth Reconstruction Programme with a total budget of € 34 million. The purpose of this Programme is to enhance the living conditions of the ordinary Afghan population, with a particular focus on rural poverty and restoration of farming activities. This Programme will continue to contribute to the restoration of political stability and stronger public administration, promote respect for the rule of law and human rights, especially those of women, and alleviate poverty by improving levels of economic activity. The Programme underlines the Commission's continuing commitment to the rebuilding of Afghanistan, as the country approaches its landmark Presidential election, to be held on 9 October.
The main elements of this latest programme are as follows:
- € 7 million will be used to fund a consolidation phase of an ongoing rural recovery programme ensuring that achievements are sustained and investment losses avoided.
- € 9.4 million will help to re-establish a functioning public animal health system to ensure healthier and more productive livestock.
- € 10 million will further support the reform process in public administration in particular, extending reforms to the provinces.
- € 6 million will go to support human rights and civil society, in particular to support the emergence of a professional journalistic community and to address the problem of domestic violence.
- € 1.6 million will be used for audits, evaluation and information purposes.
Most contracts will be concluded with implementing partners such as UN organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and private companies since the programme management capacity of government institutions remains limited despite some progress.
The Commission has been fully involved with the reconstruction of Afghanistan since 2001 and pledged approximately € 1 billion over 5 years (2002-2006) at the Tokyo Conference in January 2002. This does not include humanitarian assistance delivered through ECHO which accounts for an additional €163 million since 2002
With the proposed 6th reconstruction programme, the Commission is continuing to deliver on the Tokyo pledge. The proposed programme is part of a €400 million Commission package for 2003-2004 which concentrates on the four sectors of rural development and food security, public sector reform, economic infrastructure and support for the health sector.
In 2002, the Commission provided more than €280 million for reconstructing Afghanistan, which includes about €73 million for humanitarian assistance provided by ECHO. Most of these funds have been contracted, demonstrating that the European Commission is not only strongly committed to Afghanistan, but is fulfilling its commitments efficiently. In 2003, the Commission provided an overall budget of €246 million plus approx. €54 million in humanitarian aid (ECHO). For the year 2004, commitments have been made already for a total of € 136.5 million to which this Programme will be added.
In line with the Bonn Agreements of December 2001, Presidential elections are taking place in Afghanistan on 9 October. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to follow in spring 2005.
Three children killed in Pakistan's tribal area
ISLAMABAD, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Three children were killed and two others seriously injured when a home-made explosive device went off in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal agency on Friday, amilitary statement said.
Five children on their way to school picked up the explosive device which had been planted by miscreants for sabotage purpose on the Sarwakai-Jandola road near Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan.
The device exploded, killing two on the spot and seriously injuring three children. One child later died of wounds in a missionary hospital at Jandola, about 50 km east of Wana, according to the statement.
Pakistani military has launched operations in the tribal agencybordering Afghanistan to flush out al-Qaeda terrorists and their local supporters, who are trying to disturb the military's movement by planting landmines on the roads. Enditem
Don't Blowtorch That Missile: Afghans Clean Up
Fri Oct 1, 2004 03:34 AM ET By Peter Graff
KABUL (Reuters) - On a flinty hill overlooking Kabul, Ahmed Naseer leads a team of the mine-clearing charity Halo Trust, dismantling the wreckage of 78 huge Soviet anti-aircraft missiles that once formed Afghanistan's 99th Rocket Brigade.
The rockets were probably already old when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan in 1979, but nobody ever got around to dismantling them until U.S. B-52 jets blasted the hillside when coalition forces invaded in 2001.
Today the missiles lie twisted in storage tubes next to the rusty shrapnel piles of their launching trucks. Many of them are loaded with toxic and explosive rocket fuel, and some are still armed with live warheads.
Halo Trust teams pry them open with giant pneumatic metal cutters. Blowtorches are better for cutting steel, but might blow the whole thing up.
"We have to be very careful," Naseer explains.
His Halo Trust colleague Rob Pavey shows off one missile the group found jammed in its tube. Just this week, thieves cut it open with a blowtorch at night. They carried away the nose cone and the base of the missile for scrap, leaving just the armed warhead lying on the ground.
"There's about 40 kilos of high-explosive in here and a jacket of 4,800 ball bearings," Pavey says.
"We're trying to find out who did this. Frankly, I'd like to hire him: someone up there must be looking out for him. How he managed to stay alive, I don't know."
The past three years have been the closest Afghanistan has come to peace in decades. But the dangerous detritus of more than two decades of war is everywhere. The cost of clearing and cleaning it is staggering, but a necessary step on the road to peace.
Next week, Afghans hold their first ever contested presidential election, but conflict is still simmering.
In the south of the country, a mostly U.S. force of 18,000 troops is battling remnants of the ousted Taliban, forced from power in 2001.
In other parts of the country, warlord armies assembled during decades of civil war still mount the occasional skirmish.
The United Nations has organized a massive, Japanese-funded "disarm, demobilize and reintegrate" effort to get guns out of the hands of some of the militia that have stalked the country for a generation. The task has proved a great deal more difficult than expected.
Afghanistan's authorities estimated there were a quarter of a million soldiers who would need to go through the program. The U.N. guessed the number was closer to 100,000.
The program was due to be finished last June. But so far just 24,000 fighters have disarmed, giving up their AK-47 rifles and for sacks of flour, agricultural tools or job assistance.
"The rate of progress as far as disarmament is concerned has been disappointing," the program's deputy director, Paul Cruickshank, acknowledged to reporters in Kabul. He blamed commanders reluctant to give up their private armies.
Cruickshank's group has now also been tasked with gathering all of the heavy weaponry scattered across the country, partially dismantling it, and trucking it to "cantonment" centers where it will be left to rot.
Littered around Afghanistan they found 5,690 heavy weapons, including 695 tanks and 774 armored personnel carriers. In comparison, the British army has 543 tanks.
About two-thirds of the heavy weapons in Afghanistan are deemed "serviceable." Of those, the United Nations has managed to collect about half, loading them onto heavy trucks with cranes and driving them over Afghanistan's treacherous mountain roads.
Just the diesel fuel bill for the effort has cost $2.6 million already. The winter months will make the transport nearly impossible. And the U.N. teams have yet to try to pry the tanks loose from some of the toughest militia, like the ethnic Tajiks of the Panjsher valley.
Near the wreckage of the anti-aircraft missiles, Naseer of the Halo Trust has set up a table with land mines, to show visitors the charity's main area of work. It employs 2,000 Afghans, who squat in body armor and face shields, sifting painstakingly through the yellow soil for mines.
The charity expects to have cleared all of Afghanistan's "priority one" areas - homes, schools, hospitals - by 2006.
"This is Russian. This is Iranian. This is American," Naseer says with a wry smile, holding up an assortment of mines. "Every country is sending us gifts."
Congressional probe sought over jailing of US vigilantes in Afghanistan
October 1, 2004
NEW YORK (AFP) - A lawyer for one of three Americans jailed in Afghanistan for illegally running a private anti-terror campaign and secret jail has asked for a US Congressional probe to look into bringing the trio home.
In a letter to the two US senators from New York, Robert Fogelnest, attorney for photojournalist Edward Caraballo, a New York resident, said the trial of the three was a "sham" and the case "raises many questions to which the American people deserve answers."
He urged Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Chuck Schumer to open a Congressional investigation to have the Americans "returned home, placed under oath, and afforded an opportunity, under penalty of perjury, to answer the questions put to them and present the available evidence.
"Only in this way may the truth be known, rather than concealed as it was in Afghanistan," Fogelnest said in the letter, a copy of which was sent to AFP.
An Afghan court sentenced Carabello, 42, and the two others earlier this month to between eight and 10 years in prison.
Jonathan "Jack" Idema, 48, and Brent Bennett, 28, received 10-year terms. Caraballo was handed an eight-year sentence by the special tribunal in Kabul.
The three were arrested in July for allegedly running a private prison and counter-terrorism operation in west Kabul and jailing and torturing at least eight Afghans as part of a "private war on terror."
Fogelnest said the trial was flawed due to missing evidence, absence of witnesses and inadequate translation. "The presumption of innocence was non-existent," he said.
He claimed that the trio were languishing in a prison full of Islamic militant Taliban detainees reportedly under appalling conditions and that Caraballo had reported to a US official that one of his cellmates "had threatened to set him on fire."
The US State Department had expressed no reservation over the conviction, saying the Afghan government held the trial in accordance with Afghan law.
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