Afghanistan - Journalist's defence lawyer tells appeal hearing his client was tortured

    MONTREAL, June 2 /CNW Telbec/ - 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.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Secretary General,
Reporters without borders Canada, (514) 521 4111,,

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