Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Britons charged over Afghan guns

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has ordered all private protection firms to shut down this year

Two British private security contractors arrested four weeks ago in Afghanistan on suspicion of smuggling AK-47 assault rifles have been charged by Afghan authorities.

Local police detained the men, named earlier this month as Julian Steele and James Davis, along with two Afghan colleagues in the capital Kabul on January 3.

Afghan officials said they were found to be transporting 30 AK-47s with their serial numbers scratched off and did not have the necessary firearms permits.

The international security firm all four men were working for, GardaWorld, confirmed on Tuesday that a charge sheet had been filed.

In a statement, the company said: "On Tuesday January 3 2012, four members of our Afghanistan team were detained for carrying unlicensed weapons. They were taking the weapons to be tested at a firing range before being purchased and properly licensed by GardaWorld.

"The case is now moving through the Afghan judicial system, a charge sheet has been filed and is under review. We are fully co-operating with the Afghan authorities to resolve this situation.

"GardaWorld complies with all laws and regulations in our Afghanistan operations and we are making every effort to rectify the situation as quickly as possible with the Afghan government."

A Foreign Office spokesman said it could not add to the statement it made at the time of the men's arrest when it said the British vice-consul in Kabul had visited the men and the Embassy continued to provide consular assistance.

The arrests were the latest in a series of disputes between security contractors and the Afghan authorities.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has ordered all private protection firms to shut down this year, to be replaced by a government-run security service called the Afghan Public Protection Force.

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