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'Community had a responsiblity' to Afghan woman lynched by mob: lawyer

Protestors in Kabul re-enact the lynching of Farkhunda, 27 April 2015
Protestors in Kabul re-enact the lynching of Farkhunda, 27 April 2015 Reuters/Omar Sobhani

An Afghan court showed videos Sunday of a crowd killing a woman in broad daylight and setting her body on fire after she was accused of burning pages from a Koran. The judge asked prosecutors to show the brutal footage, recorded on mobile devices, during the second day of trial for 49 men accused in the murder - including 19 police officers charged with neglecting their duties.


The 19 March killing of Farkhunda in Kabul has prompted outrage and protests in the Afghan capital. An investigation has found that the 27-year-old woman was falsely accused of damaging a copy of the Muslim holy book by a religious leader during an argument.

Kimberley Motley, an American litigator practicing in Afghanistan who is representing Farkhunda's family during the trial, told RFI Sunday that the case has sparked soul-searching over what is widely seen as a general low regard for women in Afghan society.

“I think this case is very significant for women’s rights, it’s very significant for human rights and it’s very significant for the future of Afghanistan,” Motley said. “While the perpetrators are also being put on trial, I think the justice system is very much being put on trial.”

The defendants have been charged with assault, murder and encouraging others to participate in the vicious attack.

While there is a provision under Afghan law in which people are obligated to step in if they see that someone is being abused, no one has yet been prosecuted for such an offence, Motley says.

“There were hundreds and hundreds of people that witnessed, filmed and participated in Farkhunda’s demise, and so it’s very important that people are also prosecuted for this because the community had a responsiblity to Farkhunda in order to protect her and to try and prevent what happened to her,” she told RFI.

Sunday's testimony focused on whether police could have done more to save Farkhunda.

The police mobile response team called to the scene by dispatchers did not immediately respond.

A team member named Frotan, who like many Afghans uses only one name, testified that he was with his sick mother at a hospital and did not hear the radio dispatch.

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