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11 Afghan Police Face Jail Over Lynching

  • Ayesha Tanzeem

Afghan men stand in front of the supreme court during a protest demanding justice for a woman who was beaten to death by a mob after being falsely accused of burning a Quran last week, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Afghan men stand in front of the supreme court during a protest demanding justice for a woman who was beaten to death by a mob after being falsely accused of burning a Quran last week, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

A court in Kabul has sentenced 11 police officers, including a district police chief, to one-year jail terms Tuesday while setting eight others free over the deadly mob beating of a woman in Kabul earlier this year.

The judge found the 11 officers guilty of neglecting their duty to protect 27-year-old Farkhunda from the brutal March 19 attack that was sparked by false accusations she desecrated the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

Cellphone video showed people beating her with sticks, pushing her body from a rooftop and running it over with a car, before dragging it through the streets of Kabul, burning it, and dumping it in the river.

The attack sparked protests in Afghanistan and widespread outrage elsewhere, including condemnations by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the United Nations.

Afghan authorities promised swift justice.

Thirty civilians and 19 police officers were arrested and charged with either participating in the attack or failing to stop it. Eight others were freed for lack of evidence.

Earlier this month, a court had sentenced four of those civilians to death, including the cleric Mullah Zainul Abideen, who had accused Farkhunda, falsely, of desecrating the Quran. Eight others had been imprisoned for 16-year jail terms.

A female member of parliament from Kabul, who is also a namesake of the dead woman, Farkhunda Zahra Nadiri, expressed her dissatisfaction with the judgment. She said this was a political and not a legal decision because it involved only low-level police officials.

Kabul's police chief and the director of the Criminal Directorate of the Ministry of Interior should have been brought to trial as well for police behavior, she said.

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