The death sentence of Afghan journalism student Sayad Parwaz Kambaksh was reduced Oct. 21 to 20 years imprisonment by an Afghan appeals court. Kambaksh was sentenced to death in January for distributing papers questioning gender roles under Islam. In May, Kambaksh appealed his death sentence before the appeals court. He denied the accusations in front of a three-judge panel Oct. 19, saying they were made by Balkh University professors and students with “private hostilities” against him. He told the court that his confessions were the result of torture by the Balkh province intelligence service.
Kambaksh was sentenced to death following his trial, where he had no legal representation and was allowed only three minutes to present his defense. The closed court invoked Article 130 of Afghanistan’s constitution to pass down the death sentence, a penalty for blasphemy consistent with Hanafi Islamic law. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai was put under international pressure to pardon Kambaksh, but said that he would not intervene during the pendency of Kambaksh’s appeal. (Jurist, Oct. 22)