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UN : Taleban's Trial of Aid Workers Meaningful Only If It Is Open - 2001-09-06


The United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, has arrived in Kabul, saying the trial of the arrested foreign aid workers will be meaningful only if it is held in an open court.

He made the remarks as the trial of the eight western aid workers accused of preaching Christianity finished its third day and confusion about the Taleban judicial system persisted.

So far, the Taleban has not allowed journalists, Western diplomats and relatives of the accused any access to the proceedings in Kabul, despite an earlier promise to do so.

The defendants -- two Americans, four Germans and two Australians -- have not appeared in court since the trial began. It is also not clear whether the six women and two men have been informed of the specific charges against them or that they are being tried. The possible punishment is also unclear.

The eight foreigners, along with 16 Afghan nationals, were arrested early last month. All were working for the German-based charitable organization Shelter Now. The Afghan staff face a separate trial.

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