KABUL, Feb 10 (AFP) – An Afghan court Tuesday sentenced to death two men who last year assassinated a French United Nations worker in the southeast of the country, a judge who witnessed the session said.
Aid-worker Bettina Goislard was shot dead at point blank range by suspected Taliban on November 16 as she sat in her car at a local bazaar in southeast Ghazni province.
“The two guys first denied that they had killed Bettina and also they accused the governor of Ghazni province of torturing and beating them,” non-presiding judge Shah Ali Azgher Shahristini told AFP.
“But then the prosecutors presented enough eyewitnesses and strong documents that they couldn’t deny it.
“The judges taking into the account the documents presented and also the speeches of the eyewitnesses, made their final decision and the final decision was that they were sentenced to death.”
The convicted men – Zia Ahmad, 28 and Abdul Nabi, 29 – can appeal the Kabul Primary Court sentence.
Governor of Ghazni province Hajji Asad said that the three-hour trial, which opened Tuesday afternoon, began with the two accused pleading their innocence but that their pleas were swept aside by mounting evidence.
The judges took 20 minutes to make their final decision.
Asad said that Ahmad had been intelligence director of northern Samangan province under the Taliban and that Nabi had also had a role within the education department during the Islamic fundamentalist regime.
The convicted men, who attacked Goislard from a motorbike, were arrested by police shortly after the murder and identified as members of the Taliban regime, which collapsed in November 2001.
The death of the 29-year-old refugee agency worker prompted the withdrawal of all foreign UN staff from much of southeastern Afghanistan.
Goislard, who had also worked in Rwanda and Guinea, had been responsible for helping about 50,000 Afghan refugees return to their homes in the Ghazni area, some 130 kilometres (81 miles) southwest of Kabul.
Subject: France news