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Afghan student sentenced to death for blasphemy entitled to open appeal: justice

[JURIST] The Afghan journalism student who was sentenced to death [JURIST report] in January for distributing papers questioning gender roles under Islamic practice will be provided the right to appeal his death sentence in open court, an Afghanistan Supreme Court justice told London's Independent on Monday. Sayad Parwez 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.

Supreme Court Justice Bahauddin Baha told the Independent on Monday that the court is closely monitoring Kambaksh's case, which has received international attention. It is unclear whether Kambaksh was represented by counsel at his January trial, and Baha said that he would be entitled to choose his own defense lawyer for the appeals hearing. Afghan President Hamid Karzai [official website; BBC profile] said earlier this month that he was concerned about the case, but that he would not intervene [JURIST report] while Kambaksh's appeal is pending. Under Article 64 of the Afghan Constitution, Karzai is authorized to pardon Kambaksh or reduce his sentence. The Independent has more.

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