| ||Herat Court Sentences Child Kidnappers to Death|
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A preliminary court in Herat sentenced to death Wednesday two men for kidnapping and later killing the eight-year-old son of a Herat businessman.
Police had arrested 12 suspects, two of whom were found guilty of murder. The court also sentenced an accomplice to 20 years. Five others, including two women, received six to 16 years. Two suspects were found not guilty and released.
The defense attorney rejected the sentences and said that under pressure from popular demonstrations, the police and the courts have even imprisoned the relatives of the accused. He urged the police to further investigate the case and announced that his clients would appeal their sentences.
"Unfortunately, the preliminary court has completely ignored the justifications to my clients," said Ahmad Navid Ziaratjahi, the attorney.
The boy's father urged the government to carry out the sentences without delay, fearing that outside influence could change the outcome.
"What the people, especially the people of Herat, want from the president is to practically hang them (the accused) to death as soon as possible. Because there are other powers behind the case trying to reshape it," said Naseer Ahmad Noroozi, Ali Sina's father.
Ali Sina, the eight-year-old boy who was kidnapped with assistance from his father's bodyguard late December last year, was killed by the kidnappers late January even though they received the ransom.
According to Mr. Noroozi, the kidnappers had initially asked for $400,000 for his son's release, an amount which was negotiated down to $90,000. But the kidnappers killed and then buried Ali Sina to cover their tracks and conceal their identities.
The incident sparked mass demonstrations in Herat against increasing kidnapping incidents. Herat's provincial police chief was also transferred elsewhere.