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Afghanistan: UN Concerned Over Murder Trial

Afghanistan: UN Raises Concerns Over Trial Of The Murder Of Un Staff Member

The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has praised the swift handling of the investigation and trial of individuals convicted of the murder of a UN staff member, while raising concerns about the trial process.

Two men were sentenced to death on Tuesday by a court in the capital, Kabul, after being convicted of the murder of Bettina Goislard, a French national and UN aid worker. The men can appeal.

Ms. Goislard was in a clearly marked UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) car travelling through the city of Ghazni on 16 November when two men on a motorcycle drew alongside and opened fire. Ms. Goislard was killed and the driver was injured.

A spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Manoel de Almeida e Silva, yesterday welcomed "the very swift and fast action by the Government in investigating this assassination and following it up with the trial."

But he said the trial highlighted some of the procedural shortcomings in Afghanistan's justice system, citing as one example the fact that no witnesses to the crime were present at the trial.

In another development, UNAMA yesterday reported that 210 more ex-fighters have been demobilized in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, while almost 600 ex-soldiers in the capital, Kabul, have gone through the formal reintegration process.

In the city of Kandahar, in the south, the first women's-only site opened for voter registration ahead of this year's scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections.

The most recent figures indicate that 827,366 Afghans have registered to vote, with women comprising about 22 per cent of the total. UNAMA estimates Afghanistan has 10.5 million eligible voters.

Meanwhile, 16 representatives of internally displaced Afghans have begun a tour of Faryab province in the country's northwest to see whether conditions are stable enough for people to return there.

The tour has been organized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan Government. If the representatives are satisfied, it is expected they will encourage other Afghans from Faryab to return there.

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