Trial begins in case of mob lynching of Afghan woman

KABUL (AFP) - The trial began Saturday of 49 people charged in connection with the brutal mob lynching of an Afghan woman in Kabul in March, a killing that triggered protests around the country.

The first day of the trial at Afghanistan's Primary Court in Kabul saw the suspects - among them 19 police officers - facing various charges including assault, murder and encouraging others to participate in the attack.

The police officers stand accused of neglecting their duties and failing to prevent the attack on 27-year-old Farkhunda.

The mob turned on Farkhunda on March 19, beating her in broad daylight and setting her body ablaze on the banks of the Kabul River, after an amulet seller, whom she had reportedly castigated, falsely accused her of burning a copy of Quran.

The killing triggered days of protests around Afghanistan and several world cities and drew global attention to the treatment of Afghan women, while her funeral procession saw female pallbearers bucking tradition to carry her casket.

At Saturday's session - which was broadcast live on television - the head of the primary court ordered the arrest of another police officer in connection with the case. He also called on Kabul's police chief and other senior officials to attend the next court session.

Allegations of Quran burnings have sparked violent incidents before in Afghanistan, a deeply conservative religious nation.

In 2012 the revelation that copies of the Quran had been burnt at the US-run Bagram prison sparked five days of violent anti-US riots and attacks across the country, in which 30 people died.