KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Afghan soldier who shot and killed four French soldiers earlier this year in a high-profile case has been sentenced to death, the Afghan Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
The death penalty is relatively rare in Afghanistan, and authorities could be seeking to make an example of the condemned soldier, identified as Abdul Sabor, because of rising concern over shootings in which Afghan police and soldiers turn their guns on Western mentors. More than two dozen NATO troops have been killed in such attacks this year.
In most instances, when such confrontations flare between Afghan and Western troops, the assailants either are killed by return fire or escape. It is fairly unusual for a suspect to be captured and put on trial.
The sentencing, which took place Monday in a military court convened in Kabul’s main prison, drew criticism from human rights groups because of the lack of due process for those accused of capital crimes. A Defense Ministry spokesman, Gen. Zahir Azimy, refused to provide any further details about the case, including whether a date had been set for execution.
The January shooting deaths of the four French soldiers at the hands of an ostensible ally helped cement a French decision to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, ending an unpopular fighting role nearly two years ahead of schedule. France has promised to continue assisting with training of Afghan police and soldiers.
--Laura King and Hashmat Baktash