GHAZNI: Taliban authorities publicly executed two men convicted of murder in a football stadium in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, according to a journalist at the scene.

Both men were executed by multiple gunshots to the back in Ghazni city after Supreme Court official Atiqullah Darwish read aloud a death warrant signed by Taliban Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.

“These two people were convicted of the crime of murder,” Darwish said.

“After two years of trial in the courts of the country, the order has been signed.” Thousands of people gathered in the stadium to witness the executions.

Families of the convicted men’s victims were present, including women and children, and were asked if they wanted to grant the condemned a last-minute reprieve, but they declined in both cases.

Relatives were also offered to carry out the execution themselves, but members of the security forces killed both men after they refused. The executed were identified as Said Jamal and Gul Khan, both guilty of knife murders in September 2017 and January 2022 respectively, according to a Supreme Court statement.

The statement said Akhundzada had conducted an “extraordinary investigation” into their cases.Akhundzada ordered judges in 2022 to fully implement all aspects of Islamic law — including “eye for an eye” punishments known as “qisas”.

Public executions were common during the Taliban’s first rule from 1996 to 2001. Thursday’s executions are believed to be the third and fourth death penalties meted out since the Taliban authorities returned to power. The first two had also been convicted of murder.

There have been regular public floggings for other crimes, however, including theft, adultery and alcohol consumption.

The last reported execution was carried out in June 2023, when a convicted murderer was shot dead in the grounds of a mosque in Laghman province in front of some 2,000 people.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2024

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