Afghanistan: First public execution since Taliban takeover

KABUL: For the first time since their return to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban publicly executed a man convicted of murder on Wednesday, weeks after their supreme leader ordered them to apply Islamic law in its most brutal aspects.

The Supreme Court was summoned to enforce this order “during a mass gathering of residents in Farah (west),” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, referring to the law of retaliation found in Sharia.

The convict, identified as Tazmir, was accused of killing a man and stealing his motorcycle and a cell phone in 2017, according to a Taliban statement.

The punishment was carried out by the victim’s father who shot him three times with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Taliban spokesman said in the evening.

During the first Taliban regime (1996–2001), most convicts were shot or stoned, depending on the alleged crime.

The death row inmate, who lived in the Anzil district of western Afghanistan’s Herat province, was “confessed by the heirs of the deceased” and confessed to his crime, the same source confirmed.

The country’s new leaders assured that the case was thoroughly examined by various courts (of first instance, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court), before their Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada approved the sentence.

“This matter has been examined very precisely,” a Taliban spokesman said.

In mid-November, Hibatullah Akhundzada ordered judges to implement all aspects of Islamic law, including public executions, stoning and flogging, and amputations for thieves.

“Carefully review the files of thieves, kidnappers and traitors,” the Taliban spokesman quoted Mr. Akhundzada as writing in a tweet.

“Create a Unit”

“For these files where all the conditions of Sharia (…) are fulfilled, you are bound to apply” all the sanctions provided for, he continued.

“With this formal notice to apply what is written, Hibatullah Akhundzada recalled that the only law on earth is God’s and men do not have to interpret it”, analyzed Karim Pakzad, researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris), interviewed by AFP. .

The Taliban today face resistance within the regime, “Sharia, which is the ideological basis of the movement, is a way to bring people together and create unity”, the researcher observes.

They have carried out several public floggings since taking power in August 2021, but Wednesday’s execution was the first they acknowledged.

Social media has been flooded with videos and photos of Taliban fighters flogging people accused of various crimes in the streets for more than a year.

There are also reports of flogging for adultery in rural areas after Friday prayers, but this is difficult to verify independently.

After returning to power, the Taliban promised to be more flexible in the application of Sharia, but they have largely returned to the ultra-strict interpretation of Islam that marked their first transition to power.

They then publicly punish offenders for theft, kidnapping or adultery, with punishments such as amputation and stoning.

Afghan human rights activist Ogai Amil told AFP on Wednesday, “These punishments are banned worldwide. It is inhumane to watch.”

Washington has claimed that with these executions, described as “heinous”, the Taliban are not keeping their promises to the rest of the world.

“This shows in our view that the Taliban are looking to return to their backward and violent practices of the 1990s,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news conference.

For its part, the UN expressed its “deep concern” through a spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Our position has never changed, the United Nations opposes the death penalty (…). So we call for the return of the moratorium on the death penalty in the country”, added Stephanie Tremblay.

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