Shakeel Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track Osama Bin Laden, is set to face a fresh trial after an official on Thursday overturned the 33-year jail term given to him. 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 and ordered a new trial.
Anees handed over Afridi’s case to the political agent of the semi-autonomous Khyber Agency. He said Afridi could be released only on the orders of the political agent.
“The assistant political agent...did not have the authority to award 33 years’ imprisonment to Dr Shakeel Afridi,” Anees said in his order.
“The assistant political agent played the role of a magistrate for which he was not authorised,” it said.
Afridi, in his forties, was sentenced to 33 years in jail on May 24, 2012 after being convicted of treason over alleged ties to the banned Lashkar-e-Islam and not for working for the CIA. He was also fined Rs 320,000.
The verdict was issued by the assistant political agent, who has judicial powers.
Afridi was accused of conducting a fake vaccination campaign on behalf of the CIA in Abbottabad as part of efforts to trace bin Laden. The Al Qaeda chief was killed in a unilateral US raid in May 2011.