Afghanistan - Six months after being sentenced to death, journalist still waits to know his fate



    MONTREAL, July 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today called
for the release of Afghan journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, aged 23, of the
magazine Jahan-e Naw (The New World), who was sentenced to death for
"blasphemy" six months ago.
    Perwiz Kambakhsh's appeal hearing has been adjourned since 15 June
because of the absence of witnesses. Students and professors from the
Mazar-i-Sharif University were due to give evidence but they have not yet been
official summoned to Kabul.
    "We cannot under why the justice system does not want to release this
young journalist, despite proof of his innocence. It is essential that the
appeal court speeds up his trial", the worldwide press freedom organisation
said.
    "The medical examiner who saw him has confirmed that he was tortured by
the security forces and the irregularities in the first trial constitute
sufficient reasons to justify releasing him after already spending nine months
in prison", it added.
    Perwiz Kambakhsh's brother, the journalist Yaqub Ibrahimi, explained that
the appeal is progressing very slowly, despite the campaign by Afghan
colleagues and fellow citizens. "We have had to send a letter ourselves asking
the students and professors who are witnesses to come so they can appear
before the court," he said.
    Hundreds of Afghan journalists and writers demonstrated in 15 provinces
of the country on 8 July calling for the release of Perwiz Kambakhsh.
    He was sentenced to death for blasphemy by the lower court in
Mazar-i-Sharif on 22 January 2008 at a summary trial held behind closed doors.
Around a score of witnesses, contacted by the journalist's family, declined to
give evidence for fear of reprisals against them. He has been held in custody
since 27 October 2007.
    Reporters Without Borders also pointed out that Jawed Ahmad, Afghan
contributor to the Canadian television channel CTV, has been held without
trial by the US Army since 2 November 2007, on the Bagram air base, north of
Kabul, accused of being an "enemy combatant" because of his alleged contacts
with the Taliban.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Secretary General,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org;
www.rsfcanada.org

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