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Afghanistan vice president facing torture accusation flies to Turkey

By Daniel Uria
Afghanistan vice president facing torture accusation flies to Turkey
Afghanistan vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum (C), attends the celebrations of the Persian New Year, or 'Nowruz', in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, 21 March 2015. Dostum, who is facing allegations he kidnapped, raped and tortured political rival Ahmad Eshchi in 2016, flew from Afghanistan to Turkey on Friday citing a medical check-up. Photo by Sayed Mustafa/EPA

May 20 (UPI) -- Afghanistan's Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum left the country for Turkey amid accusations of the kidnapping, torture and rape of a political rival.

Officials in Afghanistan confirmed Dostum left Kabul for Turkey on Friday night. A spokesman for the vice president said he left the country for a medical check-up.

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"I have remained with my people in difficult circumstances, and I am concerned about the security situation in the country," Dostum said. "After completing the medical checkups, I will return to the country in a short while."

Officials said Dostum was flown out of the country on an air ambulance.

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Dostum has not been charged with any offense, but the government launched an investigation into claims made by Ahmad Eshchi, a former ally of the vice president, who said he was abducted during a sports match in 2016 and was held for 10 days. He said he was raped and tortured by Dostum and his guards.

Dostum was seen publicly yelling at Eshchi, a former governor of his home province of of Jowzjan, before having guards drag him away.

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The vice president denied the allegations and initially refused to cooperate with the investigation, although some of his bodyguards eventually agreed to questioning.

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Following Dostum's resistance President Ashraf Ghani and his western allies looked to have the vice president exiled and contacted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

At one point while the government was considering exile a Turkish plane arrived to pick up Dostum and take him from Afghanistan, but he refused to go.

He had previously left the country to go to Turkey in 2008 after facing allegations he had abducted, beaten and sexually assaulted a political rival in Kabul and fired at police officers who arrived at the scene.

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