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Afghan upper house backs journalist death sentence

Afghan journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh is seen in this handout photo. REUTERS/Family handout

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan’s upper house of parliament has backed a death sentence issued against a reporter accused of blasphemy, one of the members said on Wednesday.

The United States and U.N. right groups have expressed concern over the case of Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, sentenced to death by a court last week for allegedly mocking Islam and the Koran, and for distributing an article which said the Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women.

“The Meshrano Jirga (elders house) yesterday supported the death sentence on him,” Noorullah, a delegate said.

The upper house has no legal authority in the case, but was merely commenting on the sentence.

President Hamid Karzai has to approve any death sentences before they are carried out.

The House of Elders also strongly criticised the international community for putting pressure on the Afghan government and judiciary over the case, the delegates said.

Under Islamic law stipulated in Afghanistan’s constitution, blasphemy is punishable by death.

Writing by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani