Parents of murdered aid worker meet with Afghan president

Brussels - The parents of Hélène de Beir - one of the five MSF aid workers killed in June of last year - met briefly with President Hamid Karzai on the morning of May 13 in Brussels, at the Val Duchesse residence for visiting dignitaries. A few hours later, Francis de Beir, Hélène's father, shared the outcome of the meeting with MSF and with interested journalists.

During the meeting, the President of Afghanistan told the parents that the attack on the MSF aid workers was neither political nor religious, but was a purely criminal act.

"Karzai said the prime suspect was a local policeman in Badghis province," related Francis de Beir to MSF. "This policeman had been removed from his position and apparently wanted to prove that security would degrade unless he was reinstated.

"According to Karzai, the central government conducted two investigations in Badghis province following the murders. The first was inconclusive, as the team's efforts to inquire into the case were hampered by family ties: the policeman - who is now back in his position - is the nephew of the head of the district, who is himself the brother of the province's governor."

"The president spoke of a second investigation," continued Mr de Beir, "which revealed that atrocities were frequently committed in Badghis province. The government reacted to the results of this investigation by sending in army troops to reinforce security."

"Karzai mentioned that these additional forces would help bring order in the province - including within the local police department. He gave his assurances that his administration is now stronger than it was a year ago."

"The President also reiterated his promise that the perpetrator would be arrested and brought to justice, and I was invited to witness the forthcoming trial in Afghanistan."