February 19, 2008 / 9:59 AM / 12 years ago

Afghan general prosecutor summons ex-warlord

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan’s office of the general prosecutor has ordered an ex-ethnic Uzbek warlord and current senior armed forces officer, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, summoned over allegations he beat a former ally.

Police briefly surrounded the luxury Kabul villa of Dostum early this month after he entered the house of Akbar Bay with some 50 gunmen and beat him up in a drunken rage, according to police and Bay.

They say Dostum, a fierce warlord who has changed sides and alliances many times during Afghanistan’s 30 years of war, also shot a bodyguard of Bay.

The office of the general prosecutor has ordered Dostum’s suspension from his current symbolic position as chief of staff of the high command of the armed forces until he shows up for investigation, officials said on Tuesday.

It has warned it will arrest Dostum, a one-time presidential candidate, if he fails to appear, officials added.

Dostum, who has denied the accounts by police and Bay, could not be contacted for comment on Tuesday.

Bay was active in Dostum’s campaign during presidential elections in 2004 when the general gained 10 percent of the votes.

The burly and mustachioed general played a key role in helping U.S.-led forces drive the Taliban from power in 2001.

He rose to command ethnic Uzbek fighters allied to the Soviet Union during the 1979-89 occupation, then switched sides as Soviet troops withdrew.

The pro-federalist and self-proclaimed leader of Afghanistan’s Uzbeks then formed and broke alliances several times during the ensuing civil war.

At the height of his power, he ran a mini-state in the north and his well-equipped army kept even the Taliban at bay until 1997.

He printed his own money, set up his own airline, drove an armored Cadillac and vowed never to bow to a government that banned whisky and music.

Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Jerry Norton

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