English court makes first conviction for non-UK crime

Legal history was made last week as an Afghan national became the first foreign national to be prosecuted in an English court for crimes committed outside the UK.3 Raymond Buildings silk James Lewis QC led the Government’s case against Faryadi Zardad, an Afghan accused of torture, hostage-taking and conspiracy.

Lewis took over the running of the case from Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith after an earlier trial had resulted in a hung jury.

The case was brought in England under international conventions incorporated into English law. The conventions mean that countries have obligations to try crimes of torture, hostage-taking, piracy, war crimes and other crimes against humanity if a suspect is found on their soil.

On Monday (19 July), Zardad was found guilty of torture and hostage-taking and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Lewis has previously prosecuted a number of similar cases, including the 1999 House of Lords case against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, which also examined issues of torture.

Matrix Chambers silk Anthony Jennings QC acted for Zardad, instructed by James O’Keeffe of West End crime boutique O’Keeffe Solicitors.