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Published on 09 Oct 2014 | over 2 years ago

(Reuters) - Afghanistan hanged five men on Wednesday over a gang rape that had shocked the country, officials said, despite requests from human rights groups for new President Ashraf Ghani to stay the executions to address concerns about the handling of the case.

A gang rape by armed men is rare in Kabul, the capital, and the case tapped into a vein of anxiety as foreign troops leave the country while a badly stretched Afghan army and police fight a deadly Taliban insurgency.

The case had been held up as a test of Ghani's resolve to reform a justice system often accused of lapses of due process.

"The trials have been marred by inconsistencies, uninvestigated torture claims and political interference," said David Griffiths, Asia-Pacific deputy director of rights group Amnesty International.

"There is no question that this was an appalling crime and the outcry and anger this case has caused is of course understandable," he said. "But the death penalty is not justice – it only amounts to short-term revenge."

The five men were put to death barely a month after being convicted in a trial criticized by the United Nations and rights groups. The men were convicted of robbery and extramarital sex, but not rape.

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