Afghan soldier sentenced to death over French shootings

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 17, 2012 6:21 AM
Afghan soldier sentenced to death over French shootings

By Mirwais Harooni

KABUL (Reuters) - A rogue Afghan soldier who killed four French soldiers in a January attack that prompted Paris to accelerate its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has been sentenced to death, a defense ministry spokesman in Kabul said on Tuesday.

The soldier, Abdul Sabor, was sentenced to be hanged following a military court martial at Kabul's main Pul-i-Chakri prison, defense ministry deputy spokesman Brigadier General Dawlat Waziri told Reuters.

The ruling was open to appeal.

Human Rights Watch criticized the death penalty judgment and called on the French government to ask Afghan officials for it to be commuted.

The former French government, ousted in elections fought in part over French withdrawal plans, temporarily suspended training and support operations in Afghanistan after the four soldiers were killed in the attack in which 15 others were wounded while jogging at their base in the country's east.

New President Francois Hollande visited Afghanistan in May to defend his plan for accelerating France's withdrawal of its roughly 3,400 troops to the end of this year, breaking with NATO's timetable for withdrawal.

Most foreign combat troops will pull out in 2014.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday while his government wanted peace with insurgents, their atrocities would not be forgotten as part of reaching a truce.

"Those who are behind these acts and who are launching these attacks have to know that our call everyday for peace is because we want peace. But we will never forget their acts," he said in speech to police graduates.

Senior political figures have been targeted in a series of bombings over the past week which have left 24 dead.

"They have to know that for any murder, that for the martyrdom of any elder of this country, any lawmaker, any religious elder, any teacher and especially any child of Afghan soil, we remember and will never forget," Karzai said.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its fiercest since U.S.-led Afghan troops overthrew the Taliban government in 2001, and as foreign combat troops progressively hand over to Afghan security forces.

(Writing by Rob Taylor; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)