A court in Afghanistan has sentenced to death the police officer charged with killing German photographer Anja Niedringhaus. The ruling is still subject to several stages of review.
Six judges at the Kabul Ditrict Court found former Afghan police unit commander Naqibullah guilty of murder and treason over the death of Niedringhaus.
Niedringhaus and fellow Associated Press journalist Kathy Gannon were attacked in April while in the southeastern province of Khost.
The judges' ruling, which was made on Tuesday but announced later, came during a two-hour hearing that followed a three-month police investigation.
Naqibullah, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, can appeal the verdict within 15 days to a second court, and then to the supreme court, Khost's deputy governor Abdul Wahed Pathan told the DPA news agency.
Niedringhaus and Gannon were traveling under Afghan forces' protection in their own vehicle with a convoy of election workers delivering ballots to Khost province on April 4. Naqiballah walked up to their vehicle and opened fire. Neidringhaus was killed instantly and Gannon was injured.
Witnesses in court said the shooting did not appear planned, and Naqiballah has provided no reason for the incident. His defense lawyer argued at one point before the judges that Naqiballah was "not a normal person." But the judges dismissed this claim after he was able to correctly provide his name, age and the date. He has also denied the judges' claim he was trained in Pakistan by extremists, arguing he only received medical care there.
Naqiballah was also sentenced to four years in prison for shooting Gannon, who is still recovering from her injuries.
"His crime is evident and there is no reason he would be freed," said Pathan.
dr/msh (AP, dpa)