Defendants attend their trial a court in Kabul over the mob killing of a 27-year-old woman accused of burning a Koran. (Reuters: Omar Sobhani)
Dozens of Afghan men including several policemen have faced trial on over the mob killing in Kabul of a 27-year-old woman accused of burning a Koran.The lynching prompted unprecedented protests around the country. The trial, expected to last two days, was broadcast live on television.
A frenzied crowd beat and kicked the woman, named Farkhunda, to death on March 19 and set her body on fire as several police looked on near a shrine in central Kabul.
The attack was captured by mobile phone video and distributed online.
Some of those arrested were tracked down after bragging about participating on social media.
One of the men on trial on Saturday, identified only as Sharifullah, described his role in the attack
"I kicked her once or twice but did not participate in the whole thing," he testified.
"Others were asking for a match box, so I gave them my lighter."
The broad-daylight attack proved a polarising incident in conservative Muslim country.
Some defended the killing as a defence of Islam, but many others were outraged at the viciousness of the attack even before an investigation showed that Farkhunda had been falsely accused of desecrating the holy book.
Several protests against violence against women sprung up in Kabul, including one in the last week that re-enacted the attack.
It is the first time since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 that a popular movement has mobilised in support of a woman.
Under the Islamist Taliban regime, women were banned from leaving home without a male guardian, denied education and forced to wear the all-covering burqa.
Women's rights were enshrined in Afghanistan's constitution after the Taliban were ousted by a US-backed military intervention, but the majority of society remains deeply conservative.