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Two individuals sentenced in killing of Afghani journalist

Journalist Mohammad Mohsen Hashemi
Journalist Mohammad Mohsen Hashemi

Afghanistan Journalists Center

A primary court in the Nijrab district of Kapisa province convicted two individuals in the murder of local journalist Mohammad Mohsen Hashemi. The accused, the journalist's two brothers, were sentenced to 16 years in prison while his father and another brother were acquitted. The district attorney and the wife of the deceased journalist termed the verdict an "injustice".

Khodadad, head of the Nijrab Primary Court, told the Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) that the two brothers, Mawlavi Mohmmad Asef, 38 and Wasim 28, were convicted while the journalist's father and another brother were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

"The verdict was issued based on the dossier prepared by the attorney and in respect to article 396 of the Afghanistan Criminal Code, but both sides can appeal to the higher courts," he added.

Mohsen Hashemi, 30, had worked as a technical manager for the Voice of Nijrab local radio station. He was also a presenter of the station's literary program Murwareed-i-Honar and Roydadhaye Hafte, a social and political program, for four years.

The journalist's body was found in a well in Parayat village, Nijrab, on 20 May 2013, 18 days after he went missing. He had been shot in the head and suffered a serious injury to his neck.

District Attorney Mohammad Dawood said an appeal against the "unjust" verdict will be filed with the higher court.

"We prosecuted the accused. They tried to assassinate Mohsen and continued their hostility against him due to family disputes," he added.

The journalist's family members denied their involvement in the murder and called for a revision of the verdict. However, Mohsen Hashemi's wife said that the verdict was unjust and warned against the possible release of the accused.

"My husband's father and three brothers were constantly arguing with my husband over various issues, such as temporary work at a French military base in the district; in particular, he was harassed and criticised for his social and political programs on the radio station, but Mohsen was constantly resisting them," she said.

"I have raised my voice against the verdict. They all should have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment. I am currently living with my one-year-old daughter at my father's residence and afraid of their possible release via the interference of a corrupt official and I fear more threats from them toward me and my child," Mohsen Hashemi's wife added.

Abdul Motaleb Hamed, head of the Voice of Nijrab private local radio station, also raised similar concerns. He hopes the court of appeals will issue the appropriate verdict.

Eighteen journalists, including 12 Afghan journalists, have been murdered in Afghanistan since 2001, but authorities have made no progress in pursuing suspects in 15 of those cases.

The planned 2014 NATO withdrawal has raised new concerns about the situation of media freedom and journalists' safety.

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