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France urged to oppose Afghan soldier's death sentence

media Francois Hollande during a military ceremony in honour of the dead soldiers Reuters/Fred Dufour

Human rights campaigners have called on France to oppose the death by hanging of an Afghan soldier who killed five French troops in Kapisa province in January. A military court in Kabul on Monday sentenced Abdul Sabor to death.

US-based Human Rights Watch has called on Paris to ask the Afghan government to commute the death sentence on the grounds that France has abolished capital

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

punishment and, as a member of the European Union, supports its abolition worldwide.

On Tuesday the French foreign ministry “took note” of the sentence, adding that its thoughts were with the soldiers who were killed and their families.

Four soldiers were killed straight away when Sabor turned his gun on French troops on a base in Tagab district of Kapisa province, which was under French control. Fifteen others were wounded and one of them died later from his injuries.

Human Rights Watch’s call puts President François Hollande’s government on the spot since the attack, which led to then-president Nicolas Sarkozy to promise the early withdrawal of the country’s troops.

During this year’s election campaign Hollande upped the ante and pledged to pull them out by the end of 2012, a year earlier than Sarkozy.

The plan sparked concern in the ranks of the Nato military alliance. Combat troops were to begin withdrawal in July, although a number will stay to train Afghan troops and to help repatriate equipment.


The attack was one of an increasing number of “green on blue” attacks in which Afghan soldiers kill foreign security personnel:

  • This year so far 26 Nato troops have died in 18 such incidents;
  • Last year’s death toll was 35;
  • In 2010 it was 20;
  • In 2007 and 2008 it was four.

Sabor can appeal against the sentence, Afghan defence ministry official Zahir Azimi said on Tuesday.

Death sentences have been rare since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and President Hamid Karzai has said that he is reluctant to sign death warrants.

Taliban insurgents on Wednesday threatened to kill the judges and prosecutors who sentenced Sabor to death.

"We will target the prosecutors and judges involved in the case of this hero mujahid. We will use every tactic including suicide attacks to kill those judges and prosecutors," Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Muajhid told the AFP news agency.

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