Afghan Officer Charged With Killing AP Photographer Receives Death Sentence

Afghan Officer Charged With Killing AP Photographer Receives Death Sentence

July 24, 2014

KABUL: A Kabul court announced Wednesday that the Afghan police officer charged with killing Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran AP correspondent Kathy Gannon has been convicted and sentenced to death.

It was the first court hearing in the case and, under Afghan law, the verdict and sentence are subject to several stages of review.

AP reported that the six judges at the Kabul District Court found former Afghan police unit commander Naqibullah guilty of murder and treason over the attack in the southeastern city of Khost that targeted the international journalists as they prepared to cover the first round of the country's presidential election. The judges also sentenced Naqibullah, who goes by one name like many other Afghans, to four years in prison for shooting and wounding Gannon in the attack.

The judges ruled Tuesday during a two-hour hearing that followed a three-month police investigation.

Naqibullah, represented by a defense lawyer provided to him by a legal association, argued with the judges before his sentencing, saying at one point that he was "not a normal person." However, judges dismissed his claim after he provided his name, age and the correct date. Naqibullah also denied judges' claims that he once traveled to Pakistan to be trained by extremists, saying he only received medical care while there.

Afghanistan's president must sign off on any execution order. Naqibullah also may appeal within 15 days to a second court and then ultimately to the country's Supreme Court.

Witness and official accounts have suggested the shooting was not planned; while in court, Naqibullah did not offer a reason why he opened fire.

Afghanistan Journalists Center welcomes the conviction and sentencing as a promising sign of reestablishing justice in Afghanistan and look forward to the final court to endorse it.

So, this is the third cases of violence against Afghan journalists that gets conviction since 1993,as many as 45 journalists have been killed in Afghanistan; Of which 28 of them in targeted attacks and 17 others in fighting and explosions.

AFJC finding shows that apart from two cases; RTA anchorman Saiyed Hamed Noori and Editor of Andkhuy magazine, Raman Ghul the perpetrators of other incidents continue to enjoy impunity.