Death Sentences Overturned In Afghan Mob Killing

By RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

An Afghan appeals court has overturned death sentences handed down to four men for their part in the mob killing of a woman, falsely accused of burning a copy of the Koran.

In a secret hearing on July 1 at the Kabul Appeals Court three of the convicted in the killing of Farkhunda in March were instead given 20-year sentences and the fourth was sentenced to 10 years.

The court also acquitted the keeper of an Islamic shrine in Kabul where Farkhunda was attacked.  The keeper, Omran, was the one to incite the mob to attack Farkhunda after she had argued with him over amulets. He was sentenced to 16 years.

The ruling was criticized by lawmakers and activists, who said the appeals court had bowed to the conservative religious establishment and failed to uphold the rule of law.

An angry mob attacked 27-year-old Farkhunda on March 19, beating and trampling on her in broad daylight and setting her body ablaze on the banks of the Kabul River.

Eight people, including policemen, were given prison terms and four sentenced to death over Farkhunda's killing.

The killing sparked protests across Afghanistan.

With reporting by, AP, and the BBC