Central & South Asia

Bin Laden informant charged with murder

Doctor who helped find Osama bin Laden faces murder and fraud charges in Pakistan after treason conviction overturned.

Last updated: 23 Nov 2013 15:19
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Shakeel Afridi was recruited by CIA to find bin Laden by identifying his DNA [Reuters]

A Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden has been charged with murder and fraud three months after his conviction for treason was overturned.

Shakeel Afridi's defence lawyer and a senior government official told the AFP news agency on Saturday that the new charges were registered against the doctor this week after a woman accused him of killing her teenage son in 2007.

"How strange it is that authorities registered these cases after six years," said Samiullah Afridi, the lawyer who shares his client's tribal name, adding that he will defend his client in all the cases.

Afridi is accused of killing Sulaiman Afridi who the doctor operated on three times for appendicitis, but the patient died after the operation from complications.

Naseeb Gula, the mother of the patient, also accused Afridi of fraud, saying he was not authorised to operate on her son because he was not a surgeon, but a physician.

Under the tribal justice system, Afridi faces a life sentence if convicted in the murder case. Punishment for fraud is seven years in jail, his lawyer said.

A hearing has been fixed for December 20 in the main jail in Peshawar due to security threats from Lashkar-e-Islam rebel group in Pakistan's Khyber district and the Taliban who vowed to kill Afridi.

Viewed as hero

Afridi is already being held in prison pending retrial on a separate charge. He was arrested after US troops killed bin Laden in Abbottabad in May 2011 and convicted in 2012 for treason over alleged links to armed group Lashkar-e-Islam. 

The doctor, who was recruited by the CIA to run a fake vaccination programme in hopes of obtaining DNA samples to identify the al-Qaeda chief, was sentenced to 33 years in jail and fined $3,500, but his conviction was overturned in August 2013.

Pakistani officials were outraged by the bin Laden operation, which led to international suspicion that they had been harboring al-Qaeda's founder. In their eyes, Afridi was a traitor who had collaborated with a foreign spy agency in an illegal operation on Pakistani soil.

Angry US politicians saw the sentence as retaliation for his role in bin Laden's capture, and last year threatened to freeze millions of dollars in vital aid to Islamabad.

In the US and some other Western nations, Afridi was viewed as a hero who had helped eliminate the world's most wanted man.


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