More Than 200 Taliban Suspects End Hunger Strike in Afghan Jail

More than 200 Taliban suspects ended a weeklong hunger strike at a prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar after a parliamentary delegation promised their cases would be reviewed, a lawmaker said Monday.

Lawmaker Habibullah Jan said the three-member delegation received written demands from the prisoners and would pass them on to President Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul.

"New judges will review their cases," Jan said after coming out of the prison. "Those who are innocent will be released."

Abdul Malik Kamawi, a spokesman for the Supreme Court, confirmed that a delegation from the court will go to Kandahar in coming days to review their cases.

Jan said the prisoners started eating food again Monday and the lawmakers brought them some fruit juice.

He said some of those on the hunger strike had been held without trial for over two years. Others were given lengthy prison sentences after short trials. Jan said 47 of the prisoners had stitched their mouths shut during the strike.

The inmates had been captured by Afghan, NATO and U.S.-led forces, who are battling a fierce Taliban-led insurgency in the south, Jan said.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said Sunday that the prisoners had complained that foreign troops searched their homes on the basis of faulty intelligence and that they were tortured and humiliated during investigations.

Prisoners are asking for fair and independent trials as well as the presence of defense lawyers during the investigations and hearings, the commission said.

Justice Minister Mohammad Sarwar Danesh acknowledged Sunday that the justice system was working too slowly.

The Kandahar prison is under the jurisdiction of Afghan authorities.

NATO and the U.S. coalition officials were not immediately available for comment.

Rights groups have also complained that Afghan detainees have been held for extended periods without trial in the prison at the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan at Bagram.