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British Court Issues Historic Sentence To Afghan Warlord

Zardad's lawyers had argued that he gave orders not to torture captives 19 July 2005 -- A British court has sentenced a former Afghan warlord to 20 years in prison for his actions during the Afghan civil war of the 1990s.

The case is considered a landmark for U.K. and international law, as it involves a foreign national who committed crimes abroad against non-U.K. citizens. Witnesses also gave evidence anonymously via a satellite link.

The warlord, Farayadi Sarwar Zardad, was found guilty by the court yesterday of atrocities against civilians in the 1990s when he commanded an area of territory east of Kabul, where he controlled a highway between the Afghan capital Kabul and the city of Jalalabad.

Zardad was convicted of conspiracy charges related to torture and hostage taking, apparently part of the activities of an extortion ring that he headed.

Zardad moved to Britain in 1998 seeking asylum and was running a pizza parlor in London, where he was arrested in 2002 by antiterrorism police.

The jury failed to reach a verdict in Zardad's initial trial in 2004.

(compiled from agency reports)