Four Afghan men were sentenced to death Wednesday for the savage lynching of a woman falsely accused of blasphemy, a landmark judgement in a nation where female victims often have little legal recourse.
The Kabul primary court also sentenced eight people to 16 years in prison while 18 others were found not guilty after a three-day trial broadcast live on national television.
A furious mob turned on 27-year-old Farkhunda on March 19, beating her in broad daylight and setting her body ablaze on the banks of the Kabul River.
The attack came after an amulet seller, whom she had reportedly castigated for peddling superstition, falsely accused her of burning the Koran.
Her killing triggered protests around Afghanistan and drew global attention to the treatment of Afghan women.
Forty-nine people were arrested, including 19 police officers, some of whom were shown standing by and doing nothing to stop the mob in cellphone videos recorded by bystanders.
The trial, which drew praise for its fast-track nature but also prompted concern over its fairness, saw the suspects facing various charges including assault, murder and inciting others to participate.
Judge Safiullah Mojaddidi, announcing the verdict, said Zainul Abiddin, Mohammad Yaqub, Mohammad Sharif and Abdul Bashir would be hanged.
“It is not a final decision and their right to appeal is reserved,” the judge said.
Farkhunda’s parents, who were in court on Wednesday, said before the verdict was announced that they “only want justice, nothing else”.
Her brother Mujibullah said his family was not happy with the large number of acquittals in a murder caught on cellphone cameras and circulated on social media.
There were dozens and dozens of people “involved in killing of my sister and the court only sentenced four to death”, he told AFP.
“We want the court… to bring more perpetrators to justice.”