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8 Detained Foreigners To Appear in Afghan Court - 2001-09-03


Afghanistan's Taleban rulers say they have completed the investigation of eight foreign aid workers arrested for preaching Christianity and all that remains is a trial which they say will be in open court.

The Taleban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, told reporters in Islamabad that the trial could begin Tuesday or Wednesday.

The detained workers - four Germans, two Americans and two Australians from the German-based relief agency Shelter Now - were taken into custody early last month. They face possible prison sentences and expulsion from Afghanistan.

The Taleban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, is expected to make the final decision on any punishment. On Sunday, a Taleban minister said the relatives of the detainees and Western diplomats will be allowed to attend the trial.

The foreigners were rounded up along with 16 Afghan co-workers, who face a separate trial on charges of denouncing Islam. The Afghan nationals could be sentenced to death.

The United Nations has called for a fair trial of all 24 aid workers, local and foreigners.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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