Karzai Warns Against Delay in Transferring Bagram Prison

News - Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai sent a warning against any delay in transferring Bagram prison from US to Afghan control, saying it would be "considered a breach of Afghan sovereignty".

Presidential office released a statement Saturday, two days ahead of the scheduled transfer date, cautioning the US representatives against any postponement.

In a meeting Saturday with top US commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen and US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham, "President Hamid Karzai made it clear that the Bagram Prison be transferred from international forces to Afghan authority on Monday", the statement said.

Karzai said that the memorandum of understanding signed between the two parties designates the Afghan government in control, and "thus any delay in its handover is considered a breach of the Afghan national sovereignty."

"The President called the transfer an important step towards the recognition of Afghan national sovereignty and instructed relevant authorities to make sure that all respective laws of the country in regard to prison management and prisoners' treatment are fully enforced after the responsibility for the detention center is formally assumed," it said.

A grand ceremony will be held to mark the transfer of the prison on Monday.

The US agreed to hand over control of its biggest prison in Afghanistan in March this year, which was one of Karzai's demands before he would consider signing a long term strategic agreement with the Americans.

The transfer means the Afghan military will take control of around 3,000 detainees at Bagram, including the most senior insurgent captives held in the country.

While signing the agreement on March 9, the former Afghan Defense Minister Gen Abdul Rahim Wardak had said that full handover from American control would take six months.

However, the New York Times reported Thursday that US military will maintain control over dozens of foreign detainees in Afghanistan for the indefinite future, and will continue to hold and screen newly captured Afghans for a time.

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