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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 November, 2004, 18:48 GMT
Death penalty for Afghan killer
Reza Khan at court in Kabul 20 November 2004
Khan reportedly retracted an earlier confession
An Afghan accused of killing four journalists in 2001 has been sentenced to death by a court in Kabul.

Reza Khan was convicted of robbing and shooting the three foreigners and an Afghan after holding them up on a road east of Kabul in 2001.

He was also found guilty of raping one of them, Italian Maria Grazia Cutuli.

"The crimes are proven and there is no doubt about it," the presiding judge said as he passed sentence on Khan, 29, in a Kabul court.

The journalists were stopped as they travelled from Jalalabad to Kabul in November 2001, just days after the Taleban left the capital.

The other victims were: Australian television cameraman Harry Burton, Afghan photographer Azizullah Haidari of Reuters, and Julio Fuentes of El Mundo.

'Taleban order'

Top row Harry Burton and Julio Fuentes, bottom row Maria Grazia Cutuli and Azizullah Haidari
Clockwise from top left: Harry Burton, Julio Fuentes, Azizullah Haidari and Maria Grazia Cutuli
In court on Saturday, Khan denied shooting any of the journalists and also denied the rape, according to Reuters news agency.

He also alleged an order to kill them had come from a top Taleban commander.

Khan, who appeared in court in a traditional woollen hat and had a yellow blanked draped over his shoulders, was given leave to appeal.

On separate charges, Reza Khan was also found guilty of killing one of his wives and holding up a bus and cutting off the noses and ears of four male passengers.

Last month, an Afghan court sentenced to death three men for killing 11 Chinese road workers in June.

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