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Death sentences for mob killing in Afghanistan
01:24 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Farkhunda was beaten to death in March

A video revealed events to the world

Kabul, Afghanistan CNN  — 

An Afghan judge sentenced four men to death Wednesday in the mob killing of a woman accused of burning the Quran in March.

Eight other suspects received 16-year sentences. Eighteen others were found not guilty.

On March 19, a mob of male attackers beat and kicked 27-year-old Farkhunda before tossing her off a Kabul bridge, setting her body on fire and throwing it in the river. Like many Afghans, Farkhunda used only one name.

The horrific scene was recorded in a video that resonated around the globe.

The video shows her surrounded by an angry horde of men, standing with her face covered in blood. She is pushed and falls over, and her beating continues with feet, rocks and boards. In the last part of the video, her body is engulfed in flames – though it’s not known whether, by that point, she was already dead.

Judge Safiullah Mujadidi said the sentences in the cases of the 19 police officers charged in the incident will be announced early week.

The investigation

Afghan women care Farkhunda's casket

Early reports after her death suggested she was mentally ill, but her tearful father, Nadir, told CNN affiliate TOLOnews she was a religious teacher who taught the Quran to children. He said there was no way his daughter would burn pages of the holy book, which has been cited as the motive for the horrific attack.

Farkhunda’s parents said the killing was instigated by a local mullah of the Shah-e-Do Shamshera Mosque in the city’s center, who had been angered by Farkhunda’s accusations that he was distributing false tawiz.

Tawiz are pieces of paper containing verses of the Quran which are sometimes worn as pendants to ward off evil and bring the wearer good luck.

TOLOnews reported that “in order to save his job and life,” the mullah reportedly began shouting accusations that Farkhunda had burned the Quran.

Witnesses said a crowd gathered and hauled Farkhunda into the street.

“We were asking the people to stop beating her and let us ask what religion she belongs to,” one witness told TOLOnews. “But the people didn’t listen to us and kept beating her.”

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs said it had found no evidence Farkhunda burned the Quran.