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Afghan student facing blasphemy death sentence should be allowed appeal: judge

[JURIST] Afghan Deputy Chief Judge Mohammed Omar Ishaqzai said that Afghan journalism student Sayad Parwaz Kambaksh should be permitted to appeal a death sentence that resulted from a trial where he says he was not represented by a lawyer [JURIST report], the Independent reported Thursday. Kambaksh was sentenced to death [JURIST report] in January for distributing papers questioning gender roles under Islamic practice. Ishaqzai, who heads the court that sentenced Kambaksh but had no involvement in the trial, said that Kambaksh should be permitted to appeal the case in Kabul, and chided the Afghan Senate for prematurely approving Kambaksh's death sentence because Kambaksh had not yet exhausted his right to appeals. The Independent has more.

Kambaksh was convicted of blasphemy for distributing papers questioning why Islam permits men to have up to four wives while women cannot have multiple husbands. The closed court invoked Article 130 of the Afghanistan Constitution [text] to sentence Kambaksh to death, a penalty for blasphemy consistent with Hanafi [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] law. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has received international pressure to pardon Kambaksh, but said earlier this month that he would not intervene during the pendency of Kambaksh's appeal [JURIST reports]. Afghan Supreme Court Justice Bahauddin Baha said last week that the appeals hearing would be held in open court and that Kambaksh will be allowed to choose his own defense lawyer for the proceeding.

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