News24

Afghan cop jailed for drugs

2010-08-03 19:06

Kabul - A former Afghan police general was jailed for 10 years and fined $14 000 on Tuesday for helping drug traffickers smuggle opium across the country into Iran.

Mulham, 60, was in charge of border police in the three western provinces of Herat, Farah and Badghis until his arrest earlier this year on corruption charges over the smuggling of 660kg of opium.

Prosecutors alleged Mulham had received $93 000 in bribes, but the court found him guilty of taking only $7 000 and ordered him to pay twice that amount in fines.

"The jury has found you Mulham, guilty of having helped and co-operated with drug smugglers while on duty, and guilty of having taken $7 000 as bribes from drug smugglers," Judge Hayatullah Hayat told the court.

"The court sentences you to 10 years in prison."

The police chief, who goes by only one name, vehemently denied the charges, blaming them on vengeful drug lords, and can appeal against the verdict.

"I insist that I am a victim of political conspiracy. I am proud of my career and past achievements. I expected the judicial institutions of Afghanistan to be just, and not to be influenced by anyone," he told the court.

The prosecution's evidence was based on the testimony of two policemen who appeared at the trial and who have also been charged in connection with the case.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is under pressure from his Western backers to get tough on corruption, an issue that the head of US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has made a priority for troops.

Afghanistan is the world's largest heroin producer with annual exports worth up to $3bn helping fuel a nearly nine-year Taliban insurgency.