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Appellate court slammed for quashing death sentences in Farkhunda mob killing case

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Tens of civil rights activists on Monday staged protest demonstration in front of the Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque and termed the appellate court’s verdict ‘unfair’ about dropping death penalty for men who were involved in Farkhunda’s mob killing.

Earlier, the primary court sentenced four men to death in the case. Recently the appellate court quashed the death penalty of the four men to 20 years imprisonment and one defendant, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison, was acquitted.

In reaction to the jury’s decision, hundreds of girls and women protested and chanted slogans against the government and judiciary. They alleged the Presidential Office of pressurizing the court.

Silai Ghaffar, an organizer of the protest, strongly criticized the court for overturning the primary court’s decision and said: “The sentence by the appellate court was not based on justice. The decision was taken under pressure of the presidential office. The verdict behind the closed doors [of the appellate court] proved that the current government does not respect women’s rights and will never support democratic values in the country.”

She said that if they failed to raise their voice, it is feared that the apex court would release the convicts in the case.

Malalai Joya, another protester, said that women’s rights have not been restored by the government and most of the decisions were based on gender-discrimination.

Recently, scores of rights activists in a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani asked him to request the court to review its decision in the mob killing case.

Deputy Spokesman for Presidential Office, Sayed Zafar Hashemi, said the president has promised to address their concerns.

Four months ago, Farkhunda Malikzada was attacked at a shrine after being falsely accused of burning a copy of the Holy Quran.

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