Afghan aid workers in good spirits - verdict expected this week

 The trial of the eight foreign aid workers in Afghanistan charged with trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, is due to end this week. The two Americans, four Germans and two Australians were arrested early last month, along with 16 Afghan workers. Their trial, which began last month, was initially suspended after the US demanded Afghanistan hand over Osama bin Laden. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Islamabad, their Islamic Sharia lawyer, Atif Ali Khan of Pakistan, said on Saturday that he had handed his reply to the charges to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Kabul and expects the verdict this week. Mr Khan said the aid workers, who were employed by German-based Christian organisation Shelter Now International, were optimistic. He said: "They have seen the reply, they are very satisfied with it and they are confident that it's going to be a good decision in favour of them." The detained workers are: Americans Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, George Taubmann and Margrit Stebna from Germany, and Kati Jelinek and Silke Duerrkopf; and Peter Bunch and Diana Thomas from Australia. Mr Khan said: "There has been some emotional distress because of the bombings, but otherwise they're doing good. Peter and Diana are taking it very well," he added, referring to the two Australians. "Diana is playing cards most of the time. They are practising questions and they take solace from prayers. And they have each other, so they can talk together."

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