Wed, May 20, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Eleven policemen get one year over Kabul mob killing


Eleven Afghan policemen were yesterday sentenced to one year in prison for failing to protect a woman who was lynched by a mob after being falsely accused of blasphemy, following a landmark fast-track trial.

Farkhunda, 27, was savagely beaten and her body was set ablaze in broad daylight on March 19, triggering protests across the country and drawing global attention to the treatment of Afghan women.

Yesterday’s verdict comes after four men were sentenced to death and eight others were handed 16-year jail terms earlier this month after a three-day trial broadcast live on national television.

“You are sentenced ... for negligence of duty to one year in prison,” Kabul Primary Court Judge Safiullah Mojaddidi told the 11 defendants, including senior officers, while eight other policemen were found not guilty.

“This verdict is not final and the defendants have the right to appeal,” the judge added.

Farkhunda was attacked on the banks of the Kabul River after an amulet seller, whom she had reportedly castigated for peddling superstition, falsely accused her of burning a copy of the Koran.

Forty-nine people were arrested, including 19 police officers, some of whom were shown standing by and doing nothing to stop the mob in cellphone videos recorded by bystanders.

The quick trial drew some praise in a country where female victims of violence often have little legal recourse, but also prompted concerns over whether due process had been followed as many of the accused did not appear to have lawyers.

Human Rights Watch said after the death sentences were awarded on May 6 that the speed of the trial suggested the government “wants a quick and dirty process to get this case out of the headlines and move on — rather than real justice.”

Farkhunda’s family said after the May 6 verdict that they were not happy with the large number of acquittals in a murder caught on cellphone cameras and circulated on social media.

“We have nothing more to say about this new verdict. We have already expressed our concern about the whole process,” Farkhunda’s brother, Mujibullah, said yesterday.

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