Five men are executed in Afghanistan for gang rape

Human rights groups say the men's trial was 'flawed'

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The Independent Online

Authorities in Afghanistan have executed five men convicted of gang rape and armed robbery in an attack on four women, Kabul's police chief has said.

In August, eight men, some dressed in police uniforms, stopped an Afghan family's car outside Kabul and sexually assaulted four of the women in the family. The men also beat and robbed the women, one of whom was pregnant. Three of the suspects remain at large.

The men were hanged in Puli Charkhi prison in Kabul, the capital's police chief General Mohammad Zahir Zahir said. Former President Hamid Karzai had approved and signed the execution order last month, on his last day in office.

The case prompted street demonstrations in support of the victims. While allowed under Afghan law, the death penalty was applied only on two occasions during Karzai's 13-year presidency.

However, human rights groups criticised both the speedy legal process and application of the death penalty in the rape case. The original trial lasted only two hours before convictions were announced.

Human Rights Watch said the political interference and swift convictions violated the defendants' rights to due process.

Amnesty International said the men had been convicted following a series of “flawed trials” and described their deaths as “an affront to justice”.

David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director said: “There is no question that this was an appalling crime and the outcry and anger this case has caused is of course understandable. Amnesty International continues to campaign against rape and other sexual attacks globally and in Afghanistan.

“But the death penalty is not justice – it only amounts to short-term revenge.”

Additional reporting by Reuters