[QODLink]
Middle East

Pakistan orders retrial of Bin Laden doctor

Judicial official overturns 33-year sentence of Shakil Afridi, who helped CIA track al-Qaeda chief.

Last Modified: 29 Aug 2013 14:54
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Afridi was jailed for being a member of Lashkar-e-Islam, court documents show, a charge he denied [Reuters]

A Pakistani judicial official has overturned the 33-year jail sentence passed on Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped CIA agents hunting for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in 2011.

US officials have hailed Afridi as a hero for helping pinpoint Bin Laden's location before the secret May 2011 raid by US special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after more than a decade of searching.

Judicial official Sahibzada Mohammad Anees ordered a new trial on the grounds that another official had exceeded his authority when handing down last year's sentence. Afridi remains in custody.

"The assistant political agent... did not have the authority to award 33 years' imprisonment to Dr Shakil Afridi," said the written judgement. "The assistant political agent played the role of a magistrate for which he was not authorised."

A political agent and his assistant are representatives of the Pakistani government in the tribal areas, which are not covered by the country's judicial system.

Fake vaccination campaign

Afridi's sentence further damaged ties between Pakistan and the United States when they had already strained over the Bin Laden raid. US senators symbolically withheld $33m in aid from Pakistan in retaliation.

Relations since then have slowly improved but there remains plenty of residual distrust on both sides.

Lawyer Samiullah Afridi said Afridi plans to submit an application for an early hearing.

Afridi was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign, in which he collected DNA samples, that is believed to have helped the American intelligence agency track down Bin Laden.

Pakistani officials initially said Afridi would be tried for treason for helping the US, but court documents showed he was jailed for being a member of Lashkar-e-Islam.

Afridi denied the charges and a spokesman for the group said they had no ties with him.

"Shakil was himself kidnapped by militants," Afridi's lawyer told Reuters. "He had to pay a lot of money for his release. There is no question that a person like him would treat militants or give them funds."

Afridi's new trial will be conducted under the auspices of the political agent of Khyber Agency, Anees said in his statement.

Anees is a commissioner with responsibility for law in Pakistan's tribal areas.

338

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
join our mailing list