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Afghan journalism student death sentence reduced to 20-year prison term

[JURIST] The death sentence of Afghan journalism student Sayad Parwaz Kambaksh [JURIST news archive] was reduced Tuesday to 20 years' imprisonment by an Afghan appeals court. Kambaksh was sentenced to death [JURIST report] in January for distributing papers questioning gender roles under Islam. In May, Kambaksh appealed his death sentence [JURIST report] before the appeals court. He denied the accusations in front of a three-judge panel Sunday, 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. The Times has more.

Kambaksh was sentenced to death following his trial, where he had no legal representation [JURIST report] and was allowed only three minutes to present his defense. The closed court invoked Article 130 of the Afghanistan Constitution [text] to pass down the death sentence, a penalty for blasphemy consistent with Hanafi [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] Islamic law. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai was put under international pressure to pardon Kambaksh, but said that he would not intervene [JURIST report] during the pendency of Kambaksh's appeal.

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