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Dr Shakeel Afridi appeals conviction

02 June, 2012

PESHAWAR: Lawyers representing Dr Shakeel Afridi jailed after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden appealed against his conviction on Friday.

Afridi was on May 23 sentenced to 33 years in jail, worsening Pakistan's already precarious relationship with the United States. He was arrested after US troops killed bin Laden in May 2011 in Abbottabad where he set up a fake vaccination programme in the hope of obtaining DNA samples to identify the al Qaeda leader. But he was convicted for treason over alleged ties to terrorist group Lashkar-e-Islam and not for working for the CIA, for which the court said it did not have jurisdiction.

The appeal, filed by his brother Jamil Afridi through lawyers, said the allegations were "false, concocted and without foundation". It said Afridi had "no association" with Lashkar-e-Islam and that the conviction should be dismissed because he had no opportunity of defence or fair trial. Lashkar-e-Islam, led by Mangal Bagh, is widely feared for kidnappings and extortion in the tribal district of Khyber, where Afridi worked for years.

The appeal said Afridi was kidnapped by Lashkar-e-Islam in 2008 and ordered to pay Rs 1 million. The court said Afridi paid Rs 2 million to the faction and helped to provide medical assistance to terrorist commanders in Khyber. The terrorists have denied any links to Afridi, saying they fined him for over-charging patients, and have threatened to kill him. The Peace Movement, a civil society group that has taken up Afridi's case, said the appeal was filed to the Peshawar commissioner who hears appeals against judgements meted out under Pakistan's tribal justice system.

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