News - Afghanistan
Kabul's primary court is expected to announce its decision in the high-profile Farkhunda murder trial on Wednesday.
On the third day of the trial, 19 police officers and seven civilians standing accused of various degrees of involvement in the brutal murder presented their defenses.
Farkhunda was savagely beaten to death by an angry mob of men in the heart of downtown Kabul, an incident received with shame and disgust across Afghanistan. The tragedy came at a time when the country's leaders are trying to present an image of progress in hopes of securing further support from the international community.
The police officers standing accused of negligence for their failure to stop the mob attack have attempted to shift blame onto their superiors. The former second district police chief and other officers said the Kabul Police Chief was responsible because he failed to send reinforcements.
"I called the Kabul police chief three times, but he didn't answer my call," former second district police chief Haseebullah said. "You should have asked at least once why he didn't answer his phone; I also contacted him through the channel 32 walkie-talkie, which is only with me, chief detective and battalion commander."
"The police chief heard my voice, he usually checks through walkie-talkie when a shot is fired, but that day he heard the shots in Shah-e-Do Shamshera area and did not take any action," former second district operations chief Said Timor Shah said.
Mohmand, one of the defendants who was captured in a cell phone video inciting the crowd to attack Farkhunda, acknowledged his involvement but tried to downplay his role in her death. "I was behind the bars, I only pulled her hair, I didn't hit her with a stone or a stick, and I didn't kicker her," he said.
One detective who stands accused even suggested the prosecutor was involved in corruption. "You, Mr. Prosecutor, asked me about my salary; What was your purpose?" Former detective Noor Agha said.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor showed video evidence depicting Shah Muhammad, the former criminal investigation chief of the second district, standing among the crowd watching as Farkhunda was being beaten.
However, some present in the court on Monday expressed reservations about the case. "In Afghanistan, unfortunately, always low ranking officials are punished and senior officials are never brought to justice" civil society member Najeeb Rasa said.
Some of the arrested officers claimed that they were not even present during the incident, one being in the police station and the other going to get lunch.
Nevertheless, the prosecutor affirmed his commitment to seeking justice against all those accused. "I think there are very clear laws for serving justice in Farkhunda's case," prosecutor Kim Motley said. "Many of the accused individuals have forgotten how they killed Farkhunda that day. I hope that that judges will enforce the laws and I am optimistic about it. If justice is served, I am sure that the accused will be punished for what they have done."
The presiding judge, Safiullah Mujaddadi, said further investigations are needed before the case can be resolved. "Because this is a major incident and needs more investigation, we will be investigating today and for the next two days. We will be holding another session two days later," he said on Monday.
There are a total of 49 accused individuals in the case.