Slain Reuters photographer’s parents file legal action against Taliban


Legal action has been initiated against the Taliban at the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the parents of a photojournalist killed by the Islamist group in Afghanistan last year, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

Danish Siddiqui, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was killed in July last year after a clash between troops of the previous ruling government of Afghanistan and the Taliban in Spin Boldak, a town near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Siddiqui during that time was embedded with Afghan special forces tasked in retaking the town which the Taliban controlled. The military operation failed while the Taliban went on to overran the whole country a month later.

New Delhi-based lawyer Avi Singh told an online news conference that Danish Siddiqui’s parents were seeking legal action against six leaders and other unidentified commanders of the Taliban at the Hague-based ICC on the grounds that the group targeted and killed their son because he was a photojournalist and an Indian national.

Siddiqui was based in New Delhi and had travelled to Afghanistan to cover the Taliban campaign to retake the country as the United States and its allies were withdrawing their forces to end their 20-year-long war there.

Siddiqui, 38, was “illegally detained, tortured and killed by the Taliban, and his body was mutilated”, Singh and the family said in a statement issued before the news conference.

“These acts and this killing constitutes not only a murder, but a crime against humanity and a war crime.”

A commander of Afghanistan’s erstwhile Special Operations Corps that had hosted Siddiqui said the photojournalist was mistakenly left behind with two commandos when soldiers withdrew from Spin Boldak amid fierce fighting with the Taliban.

The Taliban denied that they captured and executed Siddiqui.

Afghan security officials and Indian government officials had told Reuters that, based on photos, intelligence and an examination of Siddiqui’s body, his body was mutilated while in Taliban custody after his death.

In August, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied reports that Siddiqui was captured and executed, rejecting the assertions of the Afghan security forces and Indian government officials as “completely wrong”.

Reuters has previously reported that it “was unable to independently determine if the Taliban deliberately killed Siddiqui or desecrated his body”. (Source: CNA)