Prisoners Want Cases Reassessed After Afghan-Iran Swap

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A number of prisoners, who were part of a recent prisoner exchange program between Iran and Afghanistan, on Sunday said their cases had not been investigated properly by Iranian authorities and called on government to reassess their cases.

The prisoner swap three weeks ago was based on an agreement signed between the Afghan and Iranian governments in which both countries agreed to transfer the prisoners to their countries of origin.

Based on the agreement, the group of 197 Afghans were transferred from Iranian prisons to Afghanistan and are currently being held in Herat prison.

The prisoners however are happy to be in a prison in their own country but have asked government and judicial institutions to reassess their cases.

A number of relatives of prisoners who have visited them in Herat have meanwhile welcomed the transfer.

Some relatives said that it is the first time they have seen their family members in up to 11 years. They said visiting them in Iranian prisons had been difficult.

Meanwhile, the prisoners have also called on government to transfer them to prisons in their home provinces.

“I am from Kishm district of Badakhshan. My family travel long distances to visit me in Herat jail. My family will be at risk traveling such long distances. I want government to let us serve the rest of our sentences in jails in our home provinces,” said Faiz Mohammad, a prisoner.

“We urge the supreme court and president to forgive us and reassess our cases,” said Shir Agha, a transferred prisoner.

“I was in jail for 11 years and my family suffered a lot. We lost everything we had; nothing has remained for me and my family. I ask government to reassess my case, because the law in Iran is different from the law in Afghanistan,” said Abdul Gharib, another prisoner.

But Herat prison’s chief warden Abdullah Azizi said that a number of prisoners were sentenced to death by Iranian courts. However, these sentences have since been reduced to life in prison.

“Among the transferred prisoners there are also prisoners who were sentenced to death, but the documents sent to us show that these sentences were amended to life in prison,” said Azizi.

This is the second group of prisoners to be transferred to Afghanistan in three years. Reports indicate that based on the agreement, another 5,000 Afghan prisoners will be transferred to the country in future in order to serve out their sentences in their own country.

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