Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum has refused a summons by the country's attorney general over allegations that he and his bodyguards assaulted and abducted a political rival at a sports event in northern Afghanistan last month.
On December 22, Dostum's chief of staff, Enayatullah Babur Farhamand, called the summons for the vice president to appear for questioning over his alleged role in the kidnapping and sexual assault of politician Ahmad Ishchi "illegal."
Farhamand told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan the summons was "unconstitutional" because Dostum has the same status and legal standing as the president.
He said that under Article 69 of the Afghan Constitution, allegations of crimes against the president can only be made by a two-thirds vote in parliament.
Dostum has previously rejected Ishchi’s allegations of assault and abduction, but his office had said he would cooperate with any investigation.
The Attorney General's Office said on December 17 that it had opened an investigation into Ishchi’s claim that Dostum assaulted him in Dostum's native Jowzjan Province on November 25 during a game of "buzkashi," an Afghan version of equestrian polo.
Ishchi said Dostum’s bodyguards subsequently beat him further before taking him to one of Dostum's properties, where he was reportedly held against his will for several days.
Farhamand told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan on November 29 that Ischi, a member of Dostum's Junbesh party, "was under investigation for providing support to militants."
But Ishchi's family said that he was beaten and kidnapped by Dostum's bodyguards over a personal feud between the two former allies.
Farhamand said on December 22 that if allegations are made against Dostum by two-thirds of parliament, then the next step according to the constitution would be to convene a loya jirga, a traditional gathering of ethnic, religious, and political leaders within one month.
Under Afghan law, if more than two-thirds of a loya jirga gathering approved the claims, then the case would go to a special court that would give a final verdict.
Dostum, one of the country's most notorious former militia commanders, has come under a storm of criticism from lawmakers and rights activists over the alleged incident.
A onetime communist boss whose 20,000-strong militia patrolled northern Afghanistan during the war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the civil war of the 1990s, Dostum's forces at the time were accused of resorting to rape, looting, and grisly killings -- including crushing criminals with tanks in public executions.