Briton, translator get 2-yr terms for Afghan bribe

KABUL (AP) — A British security contractor and his Afghan translator were sentenced to two years in prison for paying a $25,000 bribe to intelligence agents, the prosecutor said Wednesday.

The West has applied increasing pressure on President Hamid Karzai to crack down on rampant corruption, while he has countered that international companies are also guilty of bribery and influence peddling.

Western diplomats say a culture of graft risks undermining the Afghan government's legitimacy amid an ongoing military offensive to oust the resurgent Taliban.

The contractor, William Shaw, and his translator were arrested Jan. 25 on charges that they paid $25,000 to two Afghan intelligence service agents to get them to release two armored vehicles that had been confiscated because they weren't properly registered, said prosecutor Mohammad Ibrahim Ghafory.

The company never got the vehicles out of police custody because officers became suspicious when drivers appeared to take the cars away. The two men who received the bribe disappeared, Ghafory said.

The sentences, handed down Monday, and the convictions came from a special tribunal for corruption cases and can be appealed. Shaw was also fined $25,000, Ghafory said.

Shaw's employer, London-based security contractor G4S, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.