Heshamuddin Hesam was born in 1948. From 1983 until 1991, under the regime of Soviet-backed president Najibullah, Heshamuddin Hesam was the head of the Afghan military intelligence of the KhAD (Khedamat-e Etelea’at-e Dawlati, the regime’s secret police set up in 1980 to suppress its internal opponents). He later became secretary of state attached to the security ministry before going to Moscow as a military attaché.
Human rights groups say Afghan intelligence workers tortured more than 200’000 people during that period and that around 50’000 of them were killed.
The court summons said one person, who was not identified clearly enough according to the defence lawyers, had been beaten with sticks and had his skin ripped off his body. Others had been subjected to electric shocks.
In 1992, after Islamic Mujahideen guerrilla forces closed in on Kabul after 14 years of civil war against the Soviet-backed Communist government, Heshamuddin Hesam applied for asylum in the Netherlands. His application was denied but for years he continued to live with his family in the central Dutch town of Boskoop.
Hesam was arrested in late 2004 following investigations undertaken by the Netherlands National Investigation Team for War Crimes, a special team set up to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity with a special mandate to screen asylum seekers.