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Afghan Prison Commander Sentenced For War Crimes By Dutch Court

An exterior view of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. (file photo)

A Dutch court has convicted an Afghan man of war crimes and torture for abusing political opponents in prison and sentenced him to 12 years, which his lawyer said he will appeal.

The Hague District Court handed down its decision on April 14, saying Abdul Rafief was actually Abdul Razaq Arif, who served as commander at Kabul's Pul-e-Charkhi prison from 1983 to 1990.

"At the time, the man worked in the Pul-e-Charkhi prison where many opponents of the regime in Kabul were imprisoned under appalling conditions as political prisoners during the civil war," the court said while dismissing his claim that he was the victim of mistaken identity.

"This concerns at least 18, but possibly tens or hundreds of prisoners. The prisoners were often awaiting trial and were in a desperate situation for years," it added.

Arif, now 76, was granted asylum in the Netherlands in 2001 under the name Rafief.

Witnesses during the trial identified him as Arif as they recounted their experiences in the prison.

The trial was held under the "universal jurisdiction" principles that allow for suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity to be prosecuted abroad if they cannot be tried in the country where they were allegedly committed.

"Because the man lives in the Netherlands and has become a Dutch citizen, the Public Prosecution Service can prosecute him in the Netherlands," the court said.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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