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International Law

Afghan Journo Gets 20 Yrs Instead of Death for Blasphemy

Posted Oct 21, 2008 2:55 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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A 24-year-old student who was prosecuted and initially sentenced to death for circulating an article about women's rights under Islam is now facing 20 years in jail.

An appeals court in Afghanistan reduced Parwez Kambakhsh's sentence in a case that critics say is emblematic of the country's shift to a more radically conservative form of Islam and illustrates the country's fragile legal system, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Kambakhsh was studying in Mazar-e-Sharif, where he also worked part-time as a journalist, at the time of his arrest. He was initially held without charges, then tried for blasphemy, convicted and sentenced to death in a process decried by human rights groups and press freedom advocates. The trial was reportedly held in secret and he was, at his first trial, denied legal counsel.

Kambakhsh intends to appeal to the Afghan Supreme Court.

"I don't accept the court's decision," Kambakhsh told the Associated Press Tuesday. "It is an unfair decision."

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