Western governments called for an investigation of allegations that Afghanistan's First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum beat and abducted a political rival.
According to The New York Times, Dostum, formerly a powerful warlord, was seen by hundreds of people at a public sports event last month beating and then ordering his men to detain Ahmad Ishchi -- charges that Dostum once again denied on December 13 even as Ishchi was released from custody.
But the United States, Britain, European Union, and other Western governments said the allegations should be thoroughly investigated.
"The unlawful detention and reported mistreatment...raises serious concerns," the U.S. Embassy said, urging the Afghan government "to swiftly investigate."
The European Union, Australia, Canada, and Norway also called for a "fair and transparent official investigation" of reported "gross human rights violations and abuses."
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has promised a "full investigation."
"For the Afghan government, nobody is above the law," said palace spokesman Haroon Chakhansori. "Rule of law and accountability begins in the government itself and we are committed to it."
Dostum insists that Ishchi, who was once his political ally before falling out with him, was detained by security forces independently and now is trying to undermine him with the charges.
Ishchi said, however, that Dostum's men imprisoned him, and then repeatedly beat and even sexually assaulted him.
Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters