Afghan Writer's Death Sentence Reduced

Student gets 20 years for 'blasphemy' about women's rights
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2008 2:21 PM CDT
Parwez Kambakhsh, right, talks with defense lawyer Mohammad Afzal Nuristani during his trial yesterday in Kabul.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Parwez Kambakhsh won’t be executed for distributing literature on women’s rights, but the student and part-time journalist will spend the next 20 years in prison, an Afghan appeals court ruled yesterday. “This is arguably worse for him,” one human-rights advocate told the Los Angeles Times of the 24-year-old’s death sentence for blasphemy being reduced, noting the influence of radical Islam on the country’s “kangaroo-court justice.”

President Hamid Karzai would have had to sign off on the death sentence, but now only the supreme court stands between Kambakhsh and prison. “I don't accept the court’s decision,” Kambakhsh says. “It is an unfair decision.” Kambakhsh’s original sentence came after a secret trial, a common practice in Afghanistan. Family members say he was beaten until he confessed.