UK

Briton Bill Shaw appeals against Afghan jail term

Bill Shaw ahead of the appeal hearing
Image caption Shaw's daughter said his time in prison had left him shaken and weak

A British man jailed for two years in Afghanistan is appealing against his sentence.

Bill Shaw, a 52-year-old former army officer from Leeds, was found guilty of bribery charges in March.

At the time, he was manager of the security firm G4S providing protection to foreigners in Afghanistan.

In court, Shaw admitted paying for the release of two impounded vehicles but insisted he thought he was paying a legitimate fine, not offering a bribe.

Afghan officials who took the money have since disappeared.

Speaking before his appeal hearing, he said he hoped the judge would listen to what they had say.

"We have got to respect their legal system - you may not agree with it, but you have to respect it," he said.

He then fought back tears to send a message home, saying: "Just a massive thank you for all the support" and mentioned a Downing Street petition and a Facebook campaign.

His family have insisted throughout that he is innocent.

Al-Qaeda prisoners

His daughter Lisa Lucklyn-Malone, who lives in Kent, said her father had been left shaken, physically weak and had lost confidence during his spell in Kabul's notorious Pul-e-Charkhi prison.

But, she said, she had made a promise to her father to get him back home, and the family would not stop until they had.

She went on to say her father was arrested after his company told the authorities their vehicles were regularly being impounded and they were being charged high fees to get them released.

Image caption Bill Shaw made an MBE for his services in the armed forces

"They brought it to the government's attention and said this keeps happening. They were very grateful," she told the BBC.

"They said 'fantastic, could you come down and voluntarily help out with the investigations'.

"Dad - ex-Royal Military Police - 'of course I will - that'd be great, I'd come down and do that'.

"And then it turned against him and they said actually you know you were bribing an Afghan official."

After his trial at Afghanistan's newly-established anti-corruption court, he was jailed for two years and fined £16,185.

Shaw, who served for 28 years in the British army and was awarded the MBE for his service, is being held in Pul-e-Charkhi prison, alongside inmates from the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Ms Lucklyn-Malone said conditions were filthy and food rations were poor.

She added that should the appeal fail, she was trusting the British government would step in.

'Politics at play'

The Foreign Office has said it is following the case closely and providing consular assistance to Shaw.

The security firm G4S has said his conviction - along with that of an Afghan colleague - was "patently unfair".

The BBC's Quentin Somerville in Kabul said there was a lot of politics at play in this case.

"President Karzai's government is accused of widespread corruption. In response President Karzai says it's international firms, security firms in particular, that are robbing Afghanistan blind... siphoning off millions of pounds in aid and sending it out of the country."

Our correspondent added that the anti-corruption court, where Shaw's case was heard, was set up with the help of Afghanistan's international partners, including the UK.

"They had in mind that it would be used to tackle corruption and that it would perhaps be Afghan officials on the take that might be in the dock, though instead it turns out it's Bill Shaw," he added.

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