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Pak doctor who helped track Osama seeks fresh probe

October 22, 2013 15:36 IST

A Pakistani doctor who allegedly helped the US to track down Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden has sought a fresh probe into his conviction in a treason case.

A tribunal in federally administered tribal areas will hear arguments from Dr Shakeel Afridi's legal counsel on October 30 to determine whether the case merits fresh probe.

"We have filed an appeal seeking a proper trial under which the witnesses would be re-examined and the doctor will have the right to defence,” Samiullah Afridi, the doctor's lawyer told PTI.

Samiullah said he has also applied for his bail as the doctor has been in jail for the last two years. "While his sentence has been set aside, the order had said he will remain in jail," Samiullah said.

Afridi, who was arrested immediately after the May 2, 2011, operation by US commandos that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was convicted for treason over alleged ties to militant group Lashkar-e-Islam.

On August 29, a judicial official had overturned the 33-year jail term of Afridi, who was sentenced in May, 2012 on charges of colluding with banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Islam.

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. He had ordered a fresh trial and had said it would be heard by the political agent.

In the seven-page revision petition filed on Monday, the doctor has submitted that there was ambiguity in the order of FCR commissioner.

He argued that he approached the Fata Tribunal, an appellate court in FCR, to clear the ambiguity so that the political agent is directed to not only conduct fresh and fair trial in his case, but also remove the ban on his bail during the trial.

The petitioner requested the tribunal to direct the political agent to make fresh order of reference and refer the case to a new 'jirga' with the consent of the accused.

He said the trial court must summon the 'jirga' members and the witnesses in the presence of the petitioner and after codal formalities the trial court must pass a just and reasonable order in the case.

Due to threat to his life, Afridi requested the Fata Tribunal to direct the political agent to conduct the trial at the Peshawar Central Prison.

The Al Qaeda chief was killed in a unilateral US military raid in the garrison town in May 2011, sending bilateral relations into a tailspin and embarrassing Pakistan's powerful military.

A tribal court in the semi-autonomous Khyber Agency had sentenced Afridi, who is currently being held at the central prison in Peshawar.

Legal experts and rights activists had challenged the verdict. The US has been pressing Pakistan for the release of Afridi. It is said that Afridi ran a fake vaccination camp to gain access to the Osama family.

Snehesh Alex Philip in Islamabad
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