Brother Urges New Trial for Pakistani Doctor Jailed for Helping CIA

Posted May 28th, 2012 at 5:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The brother of a Pakistani doctor jailed for helping the United States track down Osama bin Laden says he is innocent and should be granted a new trial.

Jamil Afridi told reporters in Peshawar Monday his brother did not get a fair trial and will appeal the verdict. He said Shakil has been made a “scapegoat” by Pakistani politicians and called on Pakistan's chief justice to facilitate the appeals process.

In an interview with VOA's Deewa Radio Monday, Jamil Afridi expressed concern about his brother's detention and said Shakil should be given protection inside prison. He also said he should be given the opportunity to meet with his brother.

A tribal court in northwest Pakistan convicted Shakil Afridi of treason. He was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign to help the CIA obtain DNA samples of the al-Qaida leader and members of his family to confirm bin Laden's presence at a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

In his first comments on Afridi's conviction, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called the doctor's action a “serious offense” and “wrong” but said he had the right to a fair trial. In an interview with Pakistani Geo TV Monday, Gilani said Afridi's “deed is a serious offense” but that he should have access to the judicial process.

The United States has criticized Shakil Afridi's conviction and sentencing as “unjust and unwarranted” and called for his release. Pakistan has rejected the criticism, saying the U.S. should respect its judicial system.

The verdict comes amid already tense relations between the United States and Pakistan. Islamabad has not yet reopened a NATO supply route to Afghanistan that was shut down after U.S. airstrikes mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops last November.

Pakistan's parliament has demanded an apology for the cross-border attack and an end to U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil.

But the U.S. has shown no sign of stopping the drone attacks, which have picked up pace since last week. In the latest attacks Monday, two separate airstrikes near North Waziristan's main town of Miran Shah killed at least nine militants.

At least five militants were killed in the first attack on a compound in the town of Hassokhel, while the second attack targeting a militant vehicle in Mir Ali killed four militants.

In other violence Monday, gunmen opened fire on a passenger van carrying Shi'ite Muslims in the Lower Kurram tribal agency, killing three people and wounding six others. The area has seen sectarian violence between majority Sunni Muslims and minority Shi'ites.

And police in the northern district of Kohistan are investigating reports that a local cleric has issued decrees sentencing two men and four women to death for dancing together at a wedding.

Local official Khalid Umarzai told VOA's Deewa Radio that video of the dancing, which was taken on a cell phone, seems to be manipulated and that eight people have been detained for leaking it. He said officers have been dispatched to the area to provide security for the four women, who have been confined to their homes since the decree was issued. The men shown in the video reportedly ran away.