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Monday, December 5, 2016
Afghanistan: aid workers trial begins today
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¬†The trial of eight Christian aid workers arrested three weeks ago by the Taliban on charges of preaching Christianity, is due to begin this morning. The group may also be charged with entering Afghan homes without permission, and watching banned films. The defendants, four Germans: Margrit Stebnar, George Taubmann, Kati Jelinek and Silke Duerrkopf, two Americans: Dana Curry and Heather Mercer, and two Australians: Peter Bunch and Diana Thomas, are all workers with the German NGO Shelter Now International (SNI). Justice Minister Mullah Nooruddin Turabi told the French news agency AFN: "We will pass a fair and just resolution in accordance with the Sharia concepts in which nobody will be harmed." Concern is growing over the fate of the sixteen Afghan workers with SNI who were arrested with the eight foreigners on the same charges. According to Sharža law, they face the death penalty. The foreign workers of two other Christian humanitarian groups, International Assistance Mission (IAM) and Serve, have been been deported from the country. An IAM statement said they were "very concerned" about the impact of the Taleban crackdown on relief work. "Hundreds of thousands of people will be deprived of vital assistance at this critical time," the statement said. The Swiss NGO has been running health projects in Afghanistan for 35 years, including the country's largest eye hospital.
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