Ahmad Zaheer D.
Ahmad Zaheer D. is a former member of the Afghan military forces. In this capacity, he was reportedly responsible for interrogation of captured fighters on at least one occasion. While interrogating three detained fighters, Ahmad allegedly severely beat them by hand and by a plastic tube together with another military official. He apparently beat a prisoner, pulling him by the hair, while the other soldier stood nearby with an assault rifle in his hand. The exact time and place where these abuses allegedly occurred are still to be clarified.
Ahmad is also alleged to have desecrated and battered the remains of an enemy commander while bragging that he has “killed him like a donkey”. Then he allegedly showed villagers how to attach a meat hook to the dead man’s head before suspending him by a rope around his neck and saying he should be “hanged like a donkey”.
On 25 October 2018, the suspect was provisionally arrested by German authorities in the district of Ebersberg in the south of Germany near Munich. The arrest warrant was issued a day later. His apartment was searched by the authorities. He was put into custody while the investigations were ongoing.
The charges of war crimes of cruel and inhumane treatment as well as outrages upon personal dignity were brought before a Munich court on 29 March 2019.
On 26 July 2019, the Higher Regional Court in Munich found Ahmad Zaheer D. guilty of one count of war crimes as well as inflicting grievous bodily harm, coercion and attempted coercion. He was sentenced to two years’ probation. In this decision, the Court did not find that the mistreatment of the prisoners during interrogation amounted to torture in violation of the German Code of Crimes against International Law, but rather amounted to infliction of grievous bodily harm, coercion and attempted coercion.
On 28 January 2021, the Federal Court of Germany found Ahmad Zaheer D. guilty of torture in violation of the German Code of Crimes against International Law regarding the mistreatment of three prisoners. This conviction comes in addition to his 26 July 2019 conviction.
The Federal Court also decided that Ahmad Zaheer D.’s prosecution was not hindered by the procedural impediment of immunity for state officials. It determined that customary international law does not imply a general functional immunity for international crimes. A rule for functional immunity must be first explicitly established for it to apply.