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U-S Again Calls for Taleban to Permit Legal Assistance to Detained Aid Workers - 2001-09-07


In Afghanistan, the trial of eight foreign aid workers detained on charges of preaching Christianity is taking a one-day recess for the Muslim holy day, Friday.

The trial of the two Americans, four Germans and two Australians began Tuesday. The employees of the Germany-based Christian aid group Shelter Now were arrested by Taleban religious police about five weeks ago. The accused aid workers have yet to appear in court.

Sixteen Afghan aid workers were also detained but they are to be tried separately on charges that could bring the death penalty.

Thursday, the U-S Ambassador in Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlain, joined fellow envoys from Australia and Germany in a new call on Afghanistan's Taleban authorities to permit legal representation and to provide interpreters for the aid workers - something they have refused to do so far.

At a news conference in Kabul, Taleban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakel said (Thursday) that the detained aid workers would be brought before the court in the second phase of the trial. He said diplomats, relatives and journalists would also be allowed in then to attend the proceedings.

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