Christian Aid Workers Trial in Afghan Supreme Court in closed rooms.


KABUL.The Supreme Court of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban Sunday completed the fifth day of the trial of eight foreign aid workers accused of promoting Christianity, saying it awaited word on how they wanted to defend themselves.Taliban Foreign Ministe

Chief Justice Noor Mohammad Saqib said judges had resumed sifting evidence, but the accused had not been recalled because it was not clear how they wanted to handle their defense. Reporters were barred from the proceedings, which took place inside Kabul's four-story Supreme Court building.

Three Pakistan-based diplomats from Australia, Germany and the United States, in Kabul to offer consular assistance to the four Germans, two Australians and two Americans, said they had requested meetings with the detainees to discuss legal help.The eight foreigners and 16 Afghans, all from German-based Christian relief agency Shelter Now International (SNI), were arrested five weeks ago on charges that could carry the death penalty in Islamic Afghanistan. Saturday the foreigners made their first court appearance since the trial began and said they were innocent.``During the investigation we were accused of many things but that was not true,'' SNI's detained Afghanistan director Georg Taubmann told the court. ``We have never converted anybody. We are shocked with the accusations.''

It was the first time any of the detainees had been seen or spoken in public since their arrest. They were given papers asking if they wanted to defend themselves or hire lawyers.

Saqib said they should send the legal forms back quickly.

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