Afghan court sentences gang rapists to death
An Afghan appeals court sentenced five men to death on Monday for armed robbery and sexual assault. The death sentences given to two other defendants were reduced to 20 years in prison each for unrelated crimes.
The defendants were convicted of attacking an Afghan family driving home from a wedding outside of Kabul.
Prosecutors said that a group of eight men, some dressed in police uniforms, stopped the family’s car last month and raped the four women in the group, one of whom was pregnant, in an area close to the capital known as Paghman.
The other family members were beaten and robbed by the attackers.
Earlier this month, a lower court sentenced seven of them to death. The trial lasted only two hours before the convictions and sentencing were announced.
Street demonstrations in support of the victims took place as the penalties were announced.
Human Rights Watch said political interference and the overly swift convictions violated the defendants’ rights to due process.
“The police and court have responded to a horrific crime with a botched trial that makes a mockery of justice for both victims and defendants,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement earlier this month.
“This case sadly demonstrates that the Afghan justice system, despite more than a decade of promised reform, still has a long way to go before genuine justice is handed down.”
Judge Haqiqqi, who lead the appeals court, believes the case will be appealed to Afghanistan’s Supreme Court.