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Tajik-Afghan Prisoner Exchange Still On Hold

DUSHANBE/KABUL -- A Tajik-Afghan agreement on a prisoner exchange signed last year has still not been implemented, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The majority of the some 260 Afghan citizens currently serving terms in Tajik prisons were found guilty of illegally crossing the border and/or drug trafficking.

A court in Tajikistan's southwestern Khatlon province recently sentenced Afghan Musokhon Valadi Mirhamza to 18 years in prison. Local Judge Izzatullo Tabarov told RFE/RL that trials for three more Afghans are expected to be held soon.

One Afghan inmate, Abdullah, called RFE/RL earlier this month seeking help in being sent to Afghanistan, and cited the Tajik-Afghan agreement from last year on prisoner exchange.

Afghan Ambassador to Tajikistan Sayid Mohammad Khairkhoh told RFE/RL that implementation of the agreement is being discussed, as the Afghan Embassy in Dushanbe has prepared all necessary documents for establishing a joint Tajik-Afghan commission that would oversee the exchange.

Meanwhile, Tajik Deputy Prosecutor-General Abdusami Dodoboev told RFE/RL that the Afghans in Tajik jails will be sent to Afghanistan if Kabul can guarantee that they will serve their prison terms there and not be freed.

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dodfar Spanta told Radio Free Afghanistan on August 13, said that such guarantees have been officially sent in a special letter to the Tajik government.

There is no exact information on the number of Tajik citizens serving prison terms in Afghan prisons.