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Court gives death sentence to Afghan troop commander

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan -- For first time since the fall of the Taliban, a court in the Afghan capital handed down a death sentence Tuesday -- to an infamous military commander convicted of killing more than 20 people, including his wife.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Hadi Shinwari told The Associated Press that the condemned man, Abdullah Shah, had the right to appeal the verdict. State television said Shah pleaded innocent.

If the decision is upheld, President Hamid Karzai must sign an execution order, Shinwari said.

The former Taliban government, which strictly imposed Islamic law, carried out public hangings at Kabul Stadium.

Shah was arrested two months ago, said Khoja Ahmad Sadiqi, a senior official of the Supreme Court. Nine people testified against him, including another wife he tried to burn to death by dousing her with gas and setting it on fire, Sadiqi said.

Shah served under another commander named Zardad, who was a deputy of former prime minister and warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Shah earned the nickname "Zardad's dog," because he was known to have attacked people 'like a dog' in Zardad's company. In the early 1990s, the two reportedly robbed passers-by on the road from Kabul to Jalalabad.


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