March 26, 2006

Afghan Christian convert’s case to be reviewed

Afghan Christian convert’s case to be reviewed
Officials say case ‘dismissed,’ man set to be freed from prison soon

NBC News and news services
Updated: 3:09 p.m. ET March 26, 2006
KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan man whose death penalty case for his conversion from Islam to Christianity prompted international calls for tolerance will instead be released due to a lack of evidence, an official said Sunday.

The case has been returned to Zamari Amiri, the chief attorney in the investigation, because of “some technical as well as legal flaws,” according to NBC News.

“We can not say what will happen, but tomorrow we will decide, and due to the court order we will send him to the hospital.”

The Associated Press reported the court dismissed the case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence and he will be released soon, officials said.

The announcement came as U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faced mounting foreign pressure to free Abdul Rahman, a move that risked angering Muslim clerics who have called for him to be killed.

An official closely involved with the case told The Associated Press that Rahman would be released.

“The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case,” the official said Sunday, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

“The decision about his release will be taken possibly tomorrow,” the official added. “They don’t have to keep him in jail while the attorney general is looking into the case.”

Abdul Wakil Omeri, a spokesman for the Supreme Court, confirmed that the case had been dismissed because of “problems with the prosecutors’ evidence.”

He said several family members of Rahman have testified that he has mental problems.

“It is the job of the attorney general’s office to decide if he is mentally fit to stand trial,” he told AP.

A Western diplomat, also declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the case, said questions were being raised as to whether Rahman would stay in Afghanistan or go into exile in a foreign country.

Rahman is being prosecuted under Afghanistan’s Islamic laws for converting 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Source: © 2006 MSNBC Interactive

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