11 Afghan police get year in jail over mob killing of woman

By 05.19.2015 news > World

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan judge on Tuesday sentenced 11 policemen to one year in prison for dereliction of duty during the mob killing of a woman in Kabul who was falsely accused of burning a Quran.

Judge Safiullah Mojadedi, presiding in Afghanistan’s Primary Court, released another eight policemen for lack of evidence.

The policemen were among 49 people charged over the brutal killing of 27-year-old Farkhunda at a Kabul shrine on March 19. Like many Afghans, she used only one name.

The attack sparked protests in Afghanistan and reverberated around the world, highlighting the brutality women face in the country’s conservative society.

Earlier this month, four defendants were sentenced to death, eight to 16 years in prison, and 18 were freed for lack of evidence.

Members of Farkhunda’s family were not in court to hear the verdicts as they had not been told when the judge would announce them, according to her brother, Mujibullah. He said the family planned to hire a lawyer and appeal the sentences.

A mob attacked Farkhunda after an amulet peddler accused her of burning a Quran when she challenged him over selling his wares to women desperate to have children.

Chilling mobile phone videos recorded her being punched, kicked, beaten with wooden planks, thrown off a roof, run over by a car and ultimately set on fire.

An Afghan presidential investigation later found that she had not damaged a copy of the Muslim holy book. Some public and religious figures said the attack would have been justified if she had.

The trial was broadcast live on national TV, reflecting wide public interest. But the speed with which the first sentences were announced — after just two days of hearings — angered many, including Farkhunda’s family. The subsequent delay in announcing the verdicts for the police raised concern about the possibility of political interference.

“We have already said that we are not happy with the decision of the judge,” said Mujibullah. No date has yet been set for the appeal trial.

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