KABUL: An Afghan judge on Sunday sentenced seven men to death for the gang-rape of four women in a case that has sparked nationwide outrage.
The seven men were found guilty of kidnapping and attacking the female members of a group that was driving home to Kabul from a wedding.
President Hamid Karzai had earlier called for the men to be hanged, and the death sentences were technically handed down for the crime of armed robbery rather than rape.
In a trial that lasted only a few hours, the court heard that the men, who had obtained police uniforms and were armed with guns, stopped a convoy of cars in the early hours of August 23.
They dragged the four women out of the vehicles, robbed them, beat them up and then raped them. One of the women was reported to be pregnant.
“We went to Paghman with our families,” one victim, dressed in a burqa, told the packed courtroom.
“On the way back, they took us. One of them put his gun on my head, the other one took all our jewellery, and the rest started what you already know.”
As noisy demonstrators outside the court demanded the death penalty, applause erupted inside after Kabul police chief Zahir Zahir called for the men to be hanged.
“We want them to be hanged in public, so that it will be a lesson for others,” he said.
“We arrested them with police uniforms. They confessed to their crime within two hours of their arrest.”
The judge said the seven had the right to appeal against their sentences.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2014.
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