Taliban trial resumes without accused Christians


The Supreme Court of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban today resumed the trial of eight foreign aid workers accused of promoting Christianity in the Islamic country and said it was awaiting word on how they wanted to defend themselves.


The accused - four Germans, two Americans and two Australians from German-based Christian relief agency Shelter Now International (SNI) - pleaded innocent yesterday when they made their first court appearance since their arrest five weeks ago.

They were originally detained along with 16 Afghan colleagues on charges of proselytizing, which could carry the death penalty.

The court gave them papers yesterday asking whether they wanted to defend themselves or hire lawyers to help contest charges of trying to convert Afghan Muslims to Christianity.

"We are waiting for them to send the inquiry papers (back) to the court," Mr Saqib said. "If they don't (reply), we will go and receive it from them. They will not appear before the court for handing over the papers," he added.

Mr Saqib said it was unclear when the accused would appear before the court in future.