Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Afghan Journalist sentenced to death speaks out in interview

In an interview with the British daily The Independent on Monday, Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh had the opportunity to comment on his trial, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Afghan journalism student, who was condemned to death by a provincial court for committing blasphemy, was interviewed by the newspaper from his jail cell. Kambakhsh was given the death sentence for distributing an article he had found on the Internet that questioned the Koran’s verses on the rights of women. Kambakhsh believes that the verdict was decided before the trial began.

In the interview, Kambakhsh stated, “The way [the judges] talked to me, looked at me, was the way they look at a condemned man. I wanted to say: ‘This is wrong. Please listen to me.’ But I was not given a chance to explain.” A Balkh province attorney denies Kambakhsh’s allegations, while legal experts have begun examining the validity of the case.

Abdullah Attaei, an Afghan expert in Shari’a law, stated, “If the convicted person doesn’t admit that he wrote the article, and if he denies being quoted, then no court can judge his faith [according to Islamic Shari'a law]. When he denies that he wrote the article, then no one has the right to arrest or investigate him or even to try to prove him guilty.”

The verdict has sparked an international outcry for the journalism student’s release.

According to a chief judge from northern Afghanistan, only President Hamid Karzai is in a position to pardon Kambakhsh.

For the full article, click here.


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