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11 police jailed over mob killing

Eleven Afghan policemen have been jailed for a year for their roles in the mob killing of a woman in Kabul.

Judge Safiullah Mojadedi, presiding at Afghanistan's Primary Court, found the officers guilty of dereliction of duty. Another eight were released due to lack of evidence.

The policemen were among 49 people charged over the death of 27-year-old Farkhunda, who was beaten to death at a shrine in the capital on March 19 after being falsely accused of burning a copy of the Koran. Like many Afghans, she had only one name.

The attack shocked 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 due to lack of evidence.

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

Chilling mobile phone videos recorded the horrific last moments of Farkhunda's life, as she was punched, kicked, beaten with wooden planks, thrown off a roof, run over by a car and ultimately set on fire on the banks of Kabul River.

Her death sparked protests in the capital, with some demonstrators wearing masks bearing the image of her bloodied face. Mourners held candlelight vigils in her memory, even in Washington, as President Ashraf Ghani visited the US.

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 in fact damaged a Koran.

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 full days of court hearings - angered many, including Farkhunda's family.

The subsequent delay in announcing the verdicts for the police also raised concern about the possibility of political interference.

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 against the sentences.

"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.


From Belfast Telegraph