Published in IBNLIVE.com on Sep. 10 ::
An Afghan court’s conviction of seven men for a gang rape was wholly undermined by numerous due process violations and political interference, Human Rights Watch has said.
The court of appeals should competently, impartially and independently conduct judicial review of the September 6 trial and the resulting death sentences.
A Kabul primary court convicted all seven suspects of armed robbery and zina (sex outside of marriage) against four women returning from a wedding in Paghman district, outside of Kabul on August 23.
From the beginning, the case was marked by serious flaws, in the police investigation and in a trial that violated international due process standards as well as protections under Afghan law and the constitution, Human Rights Watch said.
These included alleged coerced confessions and inadequate time to prepare a defence.
Statements from President Hamid Karzai’s office calling for the suspects’ executions further undermined their fair trial rights and the independence of the court.