Fresh trial for doc who helped trace Osama

The 33-year jail term given to Shakeel Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track Osama Bin Laden, was on Thursday overturned by an official who ordered a fresh trial. Frontier Crimes Regulation Commissioner Sahibzada Mohammad Anees ruled that a judge in the tribal belt had exceeded his authority when he handed down the sentence last year and ordered a fresh trial. Anees also handed over Afridi’s case to the political agent of Khyber Agency. He said that Afridi could only be released when the political agent gives the orders for his release.

Afridi, in his forties, has been sentenced to 33 years in jail on May 24, 2012 on a charge of aiding the banned Lashkar-e-Islam militant group. The verdict was issued by the assistant political agent, who also has judicial powers. He was also accused of conducting a fake vaccination campaign on behalf of the CIA in Abbottabad as part of their efforts to trace bin Laden. The Al Qaeda chief was killed in an unilateral US military raid in the garrison town in May 2011, sending bilateral relations into a tailspin and embarrassing Pakistan’s powerful military.

The US has been pressuring Pakistan to release Afridi and the matter is said to have been raised during Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to Islamabad.

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