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article imageConviction of doctor who helped CIA hunt Bin Laden is overturned

By Layne Weiss     Aug 29, 2013 in World
Peshawar - A Pakistani judiciary official has overturned the conviction of a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA during its hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and has ordered a retrial.
According to The New York Times, Sahibzada Muhammad Anis, who presided over an appellate court hearing the case, ruled that the tribal judge who convicted Dr. Shakil Afridi exceeded his power by convicting him to 33 years in prison in May, 2012.
Dr. Afridi's lawyer, Samiullah Afridi, told reporters outside Anis's office in Peshawar that the court had agreed to a new trial under the support of Pakistan's Khyber Agency.
"Earlier, Shakil Afridi was a convict," said Qamar Nadeem," a cousin of Dr. Afridi. "Now, he is again an accused."
Nadeem also told BBC News this was a "great development" and said the "true facts" would now come out."
Afridi will remain in the Peshawar Central Jail where he has been held since his sentencing.
In Abbottabad, Dr. Afridi reportedly used CIA funds to establish a hepatitis vaccination program which allowed his team to help confirm where Osama Bin Laden was.
Bin Laden was killed by US forces in Abbottabad in May, 2011.
Dr. Afridi was arrested and convicted for conspiring against the state of Pakistan.
Both US Secretary of Defense Panetta and US Sec. of State Hillary Clinton demanded Afridi's release and said his arrest was a "mistake."
It is crucial to note however that despite the vaccination program and the fact that Bin Laden was eventually found in Abbottabad, Dr. Afridi never managed to confirm that Bin Laden was indeed inside the particular house where he suspected, The New York Times reports. This uncertainty would lead to the debate within the Obama administration about whether to order the SEAL raid.
Like Afridi's original trial, the new one will still be heard under tribal jurisdiction, BBC News reports.
When Afridi was first sentenced, Shahzad Akbar, an Islamabad-based lawyer, said he believed the whole thing was a "sham."
He said he felt it was questionable that the sentence was handed down by a tribal court in Khyber when the alleged offense took place in Abbottabad. Akbar told CNN, "This judgement won't last." He was right, but Afridi will be tried yet again in a tribal court.
At the time, Iqbal Khan, a Khyber Agency official told the NY Daily News that Afridi had a right to appeal the verdict.
Dr. Afridi has made claims that he has been tortured in prison. Pakistani officials have not responded to these allegations, but have denied allegations of a hunger strike, BBC News reports.
More about cia vaccination program, Osama bin Laden, shakil afridi, conviction overturned, retrial ordered
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