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Afghan Court Sentences Four To Death For Mob Killing Of Farkhunda

  • RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

KABUL -- An Afghan judge on May 6 sentenced four men to death for participating in the mob killing of a woman who was falsely accused of burning pages from the Koran in Kabul.

The four civilians were among 49 defendants, including 19 police officers, on trial in a case that sparked outrage and street protests in Kabul after video of the March 19 attack on Farkhunda, 27, appeared on the Internet.

Farkhunda was beaten and bludgeoned to death by an angry mob near the Shah-e Do-Shamshera Shrine in the Afghan capital, then lit on fire and dumped into the Kabul River.

Reading out the sentence on live television, Judge Safiullah Mujadidi said the four were guilty on charges including murder, burning Farkhunda's body, and violence against women.

He sentenced eight other civilian defendants to prison terms of 16 years, convicting them of violence against women and other crimes for their roles in the attack.

A memorial to Farkhunda in Kabul (file photo)

A memorial to Farkhunda in Kabul (file photo)

Eighteen defendants were found not guilty due to lack of evidence -- rulings that drew criticism from members of a fact-finding mission set up by Afghan authorities.

Mission members told RFE/RL they would appeal those 18 verdicts, saying the defendants should be held responsible for standing by and doing nothing.

The police officers' verdicts and sentencing are scheduled for May 10.

The officers, who were on duty in the area at the time of the attack, are accused of standing by and doing nothing to prevent the assault or stop it once it began.

Farkhunda had told women at the shrine not to waste their money on amulets being sold by male fortune tellers and faith healers.

WATCH: Video of the mob killing of Farkhunda (Warning: Disturbing images)

Witnesses said the men responded by falsely accusing her of burning the Koran, which sparked the brutal attack against her.

Police later confirmed there was no evidence to support the Koran-burning allegation.

The killing prompted unprecedented protests across Afghanistan.

It also sparked a civil society movement to limit the power of clerics, strengthen the rule of law, and improve women's rights.

However, some public and religious figures said the killing would have been justified if Farkhunda had in fact damaged a copy of the Muslim holy book.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP