Faryadi Sarwar Zardad

26.04.2016 ( Last modified: 14.06.2016 )
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Faryadi Sarwar Zardad is believed to have been born in 1963.
After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the country was controlled by warlords. Sarwar Zardad joined the group of warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar known as the Hezb-i-Islami, the Islamic party. In 1992 he was in control of a checkpoint located in Sarobi on the route between Kabul and Pakistan.

Known also as Commander Zardad or Zardad Khan, he controlled more than 1’000 men who were said to have terrorised, tortured, imprisoned blackmailed and killed civilians passing by this important route.

As a result of the Taliban’s’ rise to power in Afghanistan in 1996, Zardad arrived in the United Kingdom in 1998 seeking asylum with a faked passport.

He was living in Gleneagle Road, Streatham, Kent, in the south of London and was running a pizzeria at Bexleyheath in Kent.

Zardad was arrested in July 2003.


legal procedure

Zardad was arrested in July 2003.

On 9 October 2004, Sarwar Zardad appeared before the Old Bailey Criminal Court to be tried on 16 counts of indictment : nine of torture, one of conspiracy to torture, five of hostage taking and one of conspiracy to take hostages.

Witnesses present at the Old Bailey and on a video-link with the British Embassy in Kabul accused Zardad of having beaten them with plastic rubber tubes and batons, threatened them with rape, of having tortured them, cut off their ears, obliged them to bite the testicles of other men, forced them to work for months in the mines, required ransoms and of killing numerous persons. Sarwar Zardad denied all of the accusations.

This was the first time that a torturer was tried in the United Kingdom for acts of torture committed abroad. This had become possible due to the ratification by the United Kingdom of the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1988, which established torture as an international crime. As a consequence, torture, wherever committed, can be investigated and prosecuted in this country. This crime was introduced in section 134 of the British Penal Code by The Criminal Justice Act of 1988.

After a week of deliberations, the jury, composed of eight men and four women, could not reach a decision. The judge decided to defer the case to a later date.

On 8 June 2005, the retrial of the case against Sarwar Zardad before the Old Bailey Criminal Court in London started. The prosecutor announced new evidence that was not available to the first jury.

On 18 July 2005, the second jury found Zardad guilty of torture and of hostage taking. On 19 July 2005, he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.



Zardad’s trial is the first in Great Britain to be based on the principle of universal jurisdiction for torture and ending with a conviction. All other efforts until then had been unsuccessful (e.g. Pinochet).


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