Norway: Taliban's health minister avoiding war crimes tribunal

He's an imam for a little community in Oslo, but was the health minister in the Taliban government in Afghanistan for three years.

Most of those who'd been in the government with him are either arrested or wanted.  He himself lives safely in Norway since he came here in 2000.

NRK was further informed that several of the Afghans in Norway cooperated with the Police Security Service (PST) or with the allied forces in Afghanistan.  NRK has documents that show the former Taliban minister is one of those.

The imam is on the KRIPOS (National Criminal Investigation Service) list of people who are suspect of war crimes, but until now he's escaped investigation.

The imam admitted to NRK that he was contacted by the PST, but he rejected any type of cooperation.

"They were by my home and said that if there are more from the Taliban who want to defect, we are willing to help them."  The Taliban minister insists that he rejected the offer.

"I said that the Taliban are after me.  How will I be able to contact any of them?" asks the imam.

But he currently doesn't want to take part in an interview to explain more about his connection to the PST.

When he asked for asylum after his arrival in 2000, he said in the interview that he has a network in the Taliban.

"That alone is reason enough to start an investigation," thinks Sam Zia-Zarifi.  he heads the Asia department of Amnesty International.

He says that bureaucrats at this level are responsible for realizing the Taliban's policies and that they are therefore partially responsible for serious crimes against human rights.

He describes the Taliban's policies in this way: They are responsible for serious ethnic discrimination.  It's a serious crime against human rights to refuse entrance to schools and health services for women.  The Taliban is responsible for serious brutality like torture of prisoners."

Zia-Zarifi is fed up with the statement that "everybody in Afghanistan has blood on their hands".  He thinks this functions as a bad excuse not to investigate the truly serious cases.

"There are millions of people in Afghanistan who don't have blood on their hands.  They have a demand for truth."

NRK reported Tuesday of a high-ranking general who wasn't investigated, despite being connected to a famous massacre of several thousand victims in Afghanistan in 1997.

Lawyer Heidi Bache-Wiig, who defended the suspect in Norway's only court case of war crimes, is upset.

"It looks like Norwegian police and authorities don't dare investigate the big political cases.  Instead they take the small war criminals and crush them," she says.

Niether the PST nor justice minister Knut Storberget wanted to comment on this case.

Source: NRK (Norwegian)

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