AFGHANISTAN. REPORTER FACING DEATH SENTENCE DENIES BLASPHEMY
May 18, 2008: an Afghan journalist sentenced to death on blasphemy charges pleaded not guilty during his appeal hearing that started in the capital Kabul. The court hearing Parwiz Kambakhsh's appeal gave him until next Sunday to present his defence statement against the primary provincial court's ruling. "The court gives you one week to prepare your defence," Abdul Salam Qazizada, the appeal judge said.
Kambakhsh said he would be represented at his next hearing by a lawyer. He also told the judge that his first trial was "unjust" because he was given only three minutes to defend himself.
The 23-year-old journalist denied the charges, saying: "I'm a Muslim and will never allow myself to insult my religion."
Kambakhsh, who read out verses from the Koran, added: "I was forced to sign the allegation papers. I was tortured (by security forces) and had no other choice to accept the allegations." (Sources: Agence France Presse, 18/05/2008)