Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Afghanistan 1 June 2008

Journalist’s defence lawyer tells appeal hearing his client was tortured

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a young journalist who has been under sentence of death since January on a blasphemy charge, was physically mistreated by the security services in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to get him to confess, his lawyer, Mohamad Afzal Nuristani, told an appeal hearing today in Kabul.

Nuristani also said Kambakhsh’s trial in Mazar-i-Sharif was marred by irregularities, including the fact that he was not represented by a lawyer. The appeal court judge adjourned the hearing pending the results of forensic and internal investigations into the allegations of mistreatment, and ordered Kambakhsh transferred to a hospital for examination.

“Kambakhsh should be examined and released in the light of these new facts revealed by the defence,” Reporters Without Borders said. “What with confessions extracted under torture - an unjust procedure - and the constant pressure, everything indicates that the trial that resulted in Kambakhsh being sentenced to death did not respect the basic principles of Afghan due process. The judicial authorities should take note of this.”

Kambakhsh is exhausted by seven months of detention and Reporters Without Borders is extremely worried about his state of health. Several sources have told the press freedom organisation that he has psychological problems and his brother, fellow journalist, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, said: “His mind wanders when he speaks and he has lost more than 10 kilos.”

The judge began today’s appeal hearing by taking nearly an hour to read to the court the controversial online article that Kambakhsh allegedly printed and distributed. Then Nuristani outlined the grounds for overturning his client’s death sentence, including the injuries to the nose and hand he sustained during interrogation by intelligence service agents. Nuristani requested an investigation and a medical examination of Kambakhsh. This was accepted by the judge, who ordered his transfer to a Kabul hospital.




In this country
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
21 April - Afghanistan
Emroz TV presenter freed on bail after being held because of complaint by Iran
24 March - Afghanistan
Authorities arrest two TV presenters in Kabul
10 March - Afghanistan
Journalist working with Canadian media, released five months ago by US military, gunned down in Kandahar
9 March - Afghanistan
Call for presidential pardon after supreme court upholds Perwiz Kambakhsh’s 20-year jail sentence for "blasphemy"

in the annual report
Afghanistan - Annual report 2008
Afghanistan - Annual report 2007
Afghanistan - Annual report 2006

reports
4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
archives

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years