KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Seven men accused of wearing police uniforms and raping four women were sentenced to death by an Afghan court Sunday, in a speedy trial amid tensions of the undecided presidential election.
The suspects, who appeared bruised and injured in the courtroom, remained silent as prosecutors read aloud their confessions to the rapes that took place near Kabul on Aug. 23. Four women were returning with their husbands from a wedding that day when 10 men dressed in Afghan police uniforms stopped their vehicles before beating, robbing and raping them.
The seven suspects were arrested Wednesday and quickly confessed to their crimes. Three other suspects are still at large.
The court charged the suspects with the capital crimes of adultery and armed robbery so as to spare the victims the indignity of medical examinations or having to recount the incident.
Before the trial was underway, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he wanted the perpetrators of the crime arrested and that he hoped "the chief justice will give them capital punishment."
Human Rights Watch researcher Heather Barr noted the Afghan track record of usually trying rape victims for adultery, but said the speed of the proceedings, the mistreatment and silencing of the defendants and lack of evidence makes this a "show trial."
"In this case, the government has reacted but has done so at the expense of justice," she told The New York Times.