Afghan Court Resentences Activist
Posted on Oct 22, 2008
Want proof that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan has brought the democracy it promised? You won’t find it in this case. An appeals court resentenced Parwez Kambakhsh, a student arrested for distributing an article on women’s rights, to a mere 20 years in prison, overturning the controversial death sentence he was given last year—firmly entrenching the decision within the judiciary body by removing the executive’s power to veto.
The L.A. Times:
In a case that has illustrated Afghanistan’s drift toward a more radically conservative brand of Islam as well as the fragility of its legal system, an appeals court Tuesday overturned a death sentence for a student convicted of blasphemy but sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
The student, Parwez Kambakhsh, 24, ran afoul of Afghan authorities last year when he circulated an article about women’s rights under Islam after downloading it from the Internet. He was studying at the time in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where he also worked as a part-time journalist for local newspapers.
Arrested by security police and initially held without charges, he was eventually tried on blasphemy charges, convicted and sentenced to death.
Tuesday’s ruling by a three-judge appeals court panel was a blow to human rights groups and advocates of press freedom who have championed Kambakhsh’s cause.
The sentence for the student, Parwez Kambakhsh, 24, was reduced from death to 20 years in prison, a move that avoids chances of executive interference with the decision.