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Bin Laden doctor on murder charge

A Pakistani doctor who apparently helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden has been charged with murder in a case related to a teenage boy who died after the doctor performed surgery on him for appendicitis in 2006, his lawyer says.

The new case raises further doubt about whether Shakil Afridi, who is being held in prison pending retrial on a separate charge, will ever be freed as US officials have demanded. T

he case has caused friction between Pakistan and the US, complicating a relationship that Washington views as vital for fighting the Taliban and al Qaida, as well as negotiating an end to the war in Afghanistan.

The murder charge stems from a complaint filed by the dead teenage boy's mother, Nasib Gula, who said Afridi was not authorised to operate on her son because he was a physician, not a surgeon, said the lawyer, Samiullah Afridi.

The boy died from complications following the surgery, which took place in Pakistan's remote Khyber tribal area.

The lawyer, who is not related to his client, said the case had no merit because too much time had passed since the incident. The trial has been scheduled for mid-December.

The doctor was convicted of "conspiring against the state" in May 2012 and sentenced to 33 years in prison.

His conviction was related to allegations that he gave money and provided medical treatment to Islamic militants in Khyber, not for helping the CIA track down bin Laden. The doctor's family and the militants denied the allegations.

A senior judicial officer overturned the prison sentence and ordered his re-trial in August, saying the person who sentenced the doctor was not authorised to hear the case.

In the US and other Western nations, Afridi was viewed as a hero who had helped eliminate the world's most wanted man.

The doctor ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA in an attempt to verify the al Qaida leader's presence at the compound in the town of Abbottabad. US commandos later killed bin Laden there in May 2011.

Pakistani officials were outraged by the bin Laden operation, which led to international suspicion that they had been harbouring al-Qaida's founder. In their eyes, Afridi was a traitor who had collaborated with a foreign spy agency in an illegal operation on Pakistani soil.

AP

 

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