AFGHANISTAN. REPORTER DENIED ACCESS TO LAWYER
February 25, 2008: an Afghan reporter sentenced to death after downloading an article from the internet on women's rights said his trial lasted just four minutes. Pervez Kambaksh, 23, told the UK's Independent newspaper from his prison cell he was denied access to a lawyer and not allowed to defend himself.
Mr Kambaksh was convicted of distributing an article insulting to Islam, which he denies. His appeal against the death sentence is pending.
His ordeal began when he was questioned by some religious teachers at his university who said some other students claimed he had written a blasphemous article. Some days later he was told the Afghan intelligence services wanted to see him. In the police station he was put under arrest, he said, and told it was for his own protection as otherwise he might be killed. After a month in jail Mr Kambaksh was charged in court with blasphemy and other crimes against Islam.
In late January he was taken into a courtroom just before it was due to shut. He says the judges and prosecutor repeated some details of the case and then declared him guilty and announced the sentence was death. "The judges had made up their mind about the case without me," he told the Independent.
"I was given no chance to explain." At no point in the closed-door proceedings did Mr Kambaksh have a lawyer and he says he was not allowed to defend himself either. (Sources: BBC, 25/02/2008)