Murder accused from Afghanistan cries as he recalls death of parents and torture

A refugee accused of murder cried in the dock as he recalled the murder of his parents by the Taliban.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai is charged with the murder of 21-year-old Thomas Roberts outside a Subway sandwich shop in Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, in the early hours of March 12, 2022.

Abdulrahimzai, who is originally from Afghanistan, began to give evidence in his defence at Salisbury Crown Court on Monday.

He described his parents being killed when the Taliban planted bombs at his family home, as they suspected them of colluding with American forces.

He said: “I have seen some explosions not very far away. There was an American base not far from where we lived and the Taliban would come and demand things and there would be fighting and gunshots.

“They used heavy weapons like rocket launchers. They planted bombs around my house, I was at my uncle’s house at the time, when I came home my parents were dead. I saw their body parts and a lot of blood.”

After briefly breaking down in tears, Abdulrahimzai said he was then captured and tortured by the Taliban for up to three weeks before being dumped and left for dead on the side of a road.

Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai court case
Screenshot taken with permission from a Dorset Police video that was shown to the jury, showing Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, walking in Bournemouth (Dorset Police/PA)

The jury was shown photographs of scarring all over his body which he says was caused by the torture, during which he was beaten with the butts of rifles and injured with knives.

However, a passer-by rescued him, tended to his wounds and put him back in touch with his uncle, who arranged for him to leave Afghanistan.

He first went to Serbia through Pakistan and Iran in October 2015, before arriving in Norway later that month with a friend he considered to be like an adopted brother.

Abdulrahimzai then left Norway and spent some time in Italy and Serbia. He applied for asylum in Norway, but when his application was refused in December 2019, he left out of fear of being deported back to Afghanistan.

He arrived in the UK in Poole, Dorset, in the same month and told the authorities he was 16 when he was arrested, but the court has since determined that he is now 21.

Abdulrahimzai said it was normal for people in Afghanistan to not know their dates of birth due to a lack of education, and his uncle had told him the incorrect date.

The defendant, who was living in Poole at the time of the incident, denies murder and the trial continues.