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UK convicts Afghan warlord of torture, hostage-taking

[JURIST] A British court has convicted Afghan warlord Faryadi Sarwar Zardad [Wikipedia profile] of torture and the taking of hostages in Afghanistan in what may be the first conviction of an individual by a UK court for crimes committed abroad, a doctrine generally known as universal jurisdiction [Wikipedia profile]. UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith [official profile], speaking about the trial, said that both "international convention and English law allow the trial in England of anyone who has committed torture or hostage-taking, irrespective of where those crimes were committed." Zardad is believed to have controlled key road checkpoints in the mid-1990s on the main route from Pakistan to Kabul where the alleged tortures took place. Zardad, whose first trial [JURIST report] in 2004 ended in a hung jury, maintains he did not kidnap or torture any travelers. The 42-year-old resident of south London is due to be sentenced Tuesday. BBC News has more. France applied universal jurisdiction for the first time last month in a similar context, convicting a Mauritanian military offer for torture [JURIST report].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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