Afghanistan’s controversial first vice president, who has been under investigation for months on accusations of assault and sexual abuse, flew to Turkey unexpectedly late Friday for “medical tests,” according to his aides and Afghan government officials.

But human rights groups, Afghan analysts and others said they suspect that Abdurrashid Dostum, 63, an ethnic Uzbek militia leader and former army general, had flown into exile to avoid prosecution, possibly in a deal with the government. He has not been charged with any crime.

“Vice President Dostum does have a judicial case pending, but he has gone to Turkey for health tests. We pray for his health and return,” Shah Hussain Murtazavi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, told journalists Saturday afternoon.

In December, an elderly Uzbek politician named Ahmad Eschi accused Dostum on national TV of ordering his militia guards to imprison, beat and rape him. The powerful warlord claimed the charges were a political plot, but the incident put Ghani under strong foreign pressure to bring him to justice.


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Featured image courtesy of AFP