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Gallows for downloading a document!
Rediff News Bureau | February 25, 2008 13:23 IST
It took just about four minutes for a bench comprising three judges to send Sayed Pervez Kambaksh to the gallows. His crime -- Downloading a report on women's rights from the Internet!
The 23-year-old journalism student in Mazar-I-Sharif, Afghanistan, did not foresee the storm headed his way when he downloaded a document on Islam and women's rights from an Iranian website. Soon, he was being grilled for his action -- first by his university's religious teachers and then by the NDS (Afghan intelligence agency).
Despite Kambaksh pleading not guilty, he was charged with blasphemy and sent to jail by a court in Mazar on December 6, 2007.
A month-and-a half later, he stood trial. According to British daily Independent, which brought Kambaksh's case to the limelight, the next hearing (January 12) was cancelled after he fell ill. In the next session (January 22), he expected a date to be set for the trial, but the court had a shock in store for him.
Having been presented just minutes before the court was to end its proceedings for the day, Kambaksh was pronounced guilty and sentenced to death. The judges took no notice of what he had to say in his defence -- no questions asked, no questions answered.
'I was totally shocked. Afterwards I sat and tried to calculate just how long they had taken to judge my case. I thought at first it was three minutes, but then I worked out it was four. That was it, I have been in prison ever since,' the 23-year-old was quoted as saying by the Independent.
Support poured in for Kambaksh as news of his unfair trial made headlines around the globe. Amid international pressure, Afghanistan's Supreme Court has decided to review the case. But till the time his case comes up for hearing in Kabul, Kambaksh will have to spend his life in the company of 34 criminals in the Mazar-I-Sharif prison.