Former British soldier wins bribery appeal in Afghanistan
An Afghan appeals court on Sunday acquitted a former British soldier working for a security firm of a bribery conviction, dropping his two-year prison sentence.
Bill Shaw, manager of a security firm in Kabul, was sentenced in April to two years in a notorious prison after being found guilty of bribing an Afghan official.
"You, William Shaw... you're acquitted of charges of bribery, due to the lack of evidence," anti-corruption appeals court judge Gul Mohammad told a hearing on Sunday.
Shaw, who has been awarded an MBE, an official British honour, had admitted paying for the release of two impounded armoured cars but insisted he thought it was an official release payment rather than a bribe.
"I thank the judge and the court for reading and understanding what I was trying to do," Shaw said Sunday.
The judge went on to sentence Shaw's co-defendant Maywand Limar to eight months in prison for embezzling 25,000 dollars and ordered the arrest of two other Afghan men for involvement in the case.
A British embassy spokesman called Shaw's acquittal "good news" but said he could not be released from prison until the decision was approved by Afghanistan's attorney general and then confirmed by the supreme court.
"Before it is approved by the supreme court, he may well be released from prison on bail pending the court's decision," British embassy spokesman Paul Norris told AFP.
"It is not certain, but we hope it is as quickly as possible. We understand it may well be tomorrow," Norris said.
When he was arrested, Shaw was working as the commercial manager of the G4S security firm, which provided security for Western embassies in Kabul, including Britain's, according to British media.
He was sent to Pul-e-Charkhi, a jail on the outskirts of Kabul infamous for its squalor and the influence of Taliban inmates, Britain's Guardian newspaper said.
Shaw's Afghan colleague Maiwand Limar was also reportedly originally handed a two-year jail sentence by the three-judge anti-corruption tribunal.
The body was set up under intense international pressure for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to weed out corruption from his administration, and has received funding from Britain.
© 2010 AFP