January 23, 2008 / 10:32 AM / 10 years ago

Afghan court sentences journalist to death

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) - An Afghan court has handed down the death sentence to a local journalist found guilty of blasphemy, an official said on Wednesday.

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, a reporter with the Jahan-e Now daily paper was sentenced on Tuesday by Balkh’s primary court having been arrested three months ago by provincial security officials.

“According to...the Islamic law, Sayed Perwiz is sentenced to death at the first court,” said head of Balkh’s court Shamsur Rahman. “However, he will go through three more (appeal) courts to declare his last punishment.”

Kambakhsh was detained after complaints from some of his university classmates for allegedly mocking Islam and the Koran and for distributing an article which said Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women.

His detention has been denounced by journalist organisations which are putting pressure on the Afghan government to ensure his release.

“The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about your government’s failure to push through proposed media reforms at a time when the Afghan press is growing increasingly restricted,” the international group said.

Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, brother of Kambakhsh, called the verdict “very unfair” and asked the international community for help.

Two journalists sentenced to death also for allegedly insulting Islam managed to escape jail several years ago and have been given asylum in the West.

Under Islamic law that stipulated in Afghanistan’s constitution, blasphemy is punishable to death.

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