Subscribe

Who is Farkhunda? Why 49 men are on trial for her death in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, 49 people, including 19 policemen, are on trial for the brutal mob killing of an Afghan woman.

  • close
    A defendant speaks during his trial at the Primary Court in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 2, 2015. The trial of 49 suspects, including 19 police officers, on charges relating to the mob killing of an Afghan woman began in the capital, Kabul, on Saturday. The opening of the trial at Afghanistan's Primary Court was broadcast live on nationwide television. The suspects all face charges relating to the March 19 killing of a 27-year-old woman named Farkhunda.
    (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The trial of 49 suspects, including 19 police officers, on charges relating to the brutal mob killing of an Afghan woman began in the capital, Kabul, on Saturday.

The opening of the trial at Afghanistan's Primary Court was broadcast live on nationwide television. The suspects all face charges relating to the March 19 killing of a 27-year-old woman named Farkhunda.

A prosecutor read charges against 10 of the defendants, including assault, murder and encouraging others to participate in the assault. The policemen are charged with neglecting their duties and failing to prevent the attack, although some are suspected of actually participating.

Prosecutors have alleged that Farkhunda was beaten to death in a frenzied attack sparked by a bogus accusation that she had burned a copy of the Quran.

The killing shocked many Afghans, though some public and religious figures said it would have been justified if she in fact had damaged a copy of the Muslim holy book.

Cellphone video of the assault circulated widely on social media. It showed Farkhunda, who like many Afghans went by only one name, being beaten, run over with a car and burned before her body was thrown into the Kabul River.

The incident sparked nationwide outrage and soul searching, as well as a civil society movement to limit the power of clerics, strengthen the rule of law and improve women's rights.

Safiullah Mojadedi, head of the Primary Court, called for senior officials, including the Kabul Police Chief and the Interior Ministry's chief criminal investigator to attend Sunday's court session. He also ordered the arrest of another policeman who allegedly freed a suspect.

At least two of the accused told the court they had confessed under physical duress.

Afghanistan's judicial system has long faced criticism for its inability to offer the majority of Afghans access to justice. Women especially are sidelined, despite constitutional guarantees of equality and protection from violence, a recent report by the United Nations concluded.

The attack on Farkhunda was widely seen as symptomatic of the general low regard for women in Afghan society, where violence against them often goes unpunished.

Farkhunda was training to be a religious teacher. Her father, Mohammad Nadir told the BBC that she was interested in Islam from childhood:

"From the age of seven or eight she went to the mosque to learn the Koran which she knew by heart," he said. "She was always keen to help poor people, especially women."

Farkhunda had been to the shrine only once, when the family decided to stop there for prayer a week before her murder.

"She saw women shivering from the cold," Muhammad Nadir said. "Next time she went, she took a sweater to give to one of the women there; that was the day it happened."

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK