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Afghan court reduces death sentences for four in mob killing of woman

An Afghan appeals court has reduced the death sentences of four men found guilty in the mob killing of a woman falsely accused of burning pages of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.

The decision to reduce the sentences to between 10 and 20 years was made in a closed-door session Wednesday evening, Afghan media reported, citing court officials.

A lower court in May found the men guilty in a case that galvanized national protests and drew attention to the treatment of women in Afghanistan. The victim, a 27-year-old Koranic teacher who like many Afghans went by one name, Farkhunda, was beaten outside a shrine, run over by a car and eventually burned in a dry patch of the Kabul River as hundreds captured the grisly assault on cellphone cameras.

An appeals court judge, Abdul Nasir Murid, told the Associated Press that three of the men had their sentences reduced to 20 years; the fourth had his sentence shortened to 10 years.

Many people, including members of Farkhunda’s family, were outraged that only four men out of 49 accused were given death sentences. Eight other defendants were sentenced to 16 years each.

The appeals court reportedly also struck down the conviction of Omran, the guardian of the shrine, whom Farkhunda’s family accused of inciting the crowd against her. A district police chief, one of 11 police officers given a one-year sentence in May, also had his negligence conviction overturned.

Other defendants were acquitted or had charges dropped.

Ramin Anwari, 30, who attended protests following the killing, said more demonstrations would follow. In a tweet, Anwari called the “lack of justice and transparency unacceptable.”

Latifi is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


11:40 a.m.: This article has been updated to note that other defendants were acquitted or had charges dropped.

7:25 a.m.: This article has been updated throughout with additional reporting.

The article was originally published at 2:36 a.m.