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Four Afghan Men Sentenced To Death For Lynching Of Woman

The case of Farkhunda — who was beaten to death in Kabul in March after being wrongly accused of burning the Qur’an — has shocked the country. Speaking at the court Thursday, her mother said: "I just want justice."

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Four men were sentenced to death in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday for their part in the brutal mob killing of a woman who was falsely accused of burning the Qur’an.

Farkhunda, a 27-year-old woman who is reported to have been a religious scholar, died after being subjected to a brutal beating at the hands of a mob in central Kabul.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Protesters wear masks depicting the bloodied face of Farkhunda in Kabul.

The incident began when Farkhunda confronted an amulet seller in central Kabul about his practice of charm-peddling to women at a well-known shrine in March.

The pair got into an argument, during which the amulet seller accused her of having burned a Qur'an. This accusation was overheard by a crowd, who then set upon her, according to the BBC.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Afghan artists perform a re-enactment of the lynching in Kabul, April 27.

This, from AP, details the shocking sequence of events that occurred during and immediately after her death:

The last agonizing and brutal moments of her life were captured on mobile phone cameras by witnesses and those in the mob that attacked her. The videos of the assault circulated widely on social media. They showed her being punched, kicked, beaten with planks of wood, pushed by police onto a roof and dropped from it, thrown in the street and run over by a car. She then had a lump of concrete dropped on her and her body was dragged along the road outside the mosque were the assault took place and tossed onto the bank of the Kabul River. A crowd watched as her body was set on fire.

The footage also showed policemen largely standing and some even participating in the attack.

The incident, which took place in Kabul in March, caused uproar in Afghanistan, and sparked protests against the country’s poor record on women’s rights.

An official investigation found that she had never burned a Qur'an, and in some of the accused's confession statements, they admitted they had been drawn to the mob having overheard the allegation.

The four death sentences are part of a wider trial of 49 suspects, including 18 police officers, which began Saturday. The amulet seller was among the four men sentenced to hang.

The ruling came after just two full days of court proceedings, which is unusual given Afghanistan's notoriously slow-moving judicial system, AP said.

The defendants have the right to appeal. Those sentenced to death also include a man who threw two large rocks at her, the driver who ran her over with his car and the man who set her body on fire.

Judge Safiullah Mojadedi of Afghanistan's primary court sentenced eight other defendants to 16 years in prison, and dropped charges against another 18. The sentences for the remaining suspects are due to be given on Sunday.

Speaking to AP outside the court, Farkhunda's brother Mujibullah criticized the lenience of the sentences.

The outcome of the trial is not fair and we do not accept it — you saw just four people sentenced to death but everybody knows that more than 40 people were involved in martyring and burning and beating my sister.

Eighteen people have been freed. The court should punish them and that should be a lesson for anyone who would commit this sort of crime, anywhere in our country, in the future.

Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Francis Whittaker at francis.whittaker@buzzfeed.com.

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