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Pakistani Doctor's Family Says Trial A Sham


Jamil Afridi, the brother of jailed surgeon Shakeel Afridi, who was recruited by the CIA to help find Osama bin Laden, leaves following a news conference in Peshawar on May 28.
PESHAWAR -- The brother of a Pakistani doctor jailed for helping U.S. intelligence track down Osama bin Laden has called on the head of Pakistan's supreme court to intervene to allow an appeal by his brother.

Jamil Afridi told reporters that the trial that convicted his brother was a sham. Doctor Shakeel Afridi was found guilty of treason in a secretive tribal court last week and sentenced to 33 years in jail.

His family says the appeal process is held up because the authorities have not yet released a copy of the court order.

"They are not even giving us copies of the judgment about his punishment," Jamil Afridi said. "We have been trying since Friday [May 25] but the Assistant Political Agent is not giving us copies. The prison authorities are not allowing us to meet him to sign papers for his lawyer to meet him."

Jamil Afridi said his brother was innocent, and called his sentencing "illegal."

The doctor's defense lawyer, Raza Khan Safi, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that he had not seen a copy of the sentencing.

"The news about 33 years' imprisonment was published in media, but they are not providing copy" of the verdict, he said. "Provision of copy within 24 hours is the legal right [of the defender], but they are not providing and instead avoiding [us]. We met in addition the inspector-general of prisons, but he is not signing the defense documents.”

At Heart Of U.S.-Pakistan Tensions

Afridi, a former surgeon, ran a fake vaccination program designed to verify the Al-Qaeda leader's presence at a compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. Bin Laden was subsequently killed there in a U.S. raid in May 2011.

After his sentencing, U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut U.S. aid to Pakistan by a symbolic $33 million, or $1 million for each year of his jail sentence.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the sentence was "unjust and unwarranted." Clinton said Afridi was "instrumental in taking down one of the world's most-wanted terrorists."

Last week, jail officials said Afridi was weak, depressed, and suffering from stomach problems. The officials said he had been examined by prison doctors and prescribed medicine. A local government spokesman, however, said on May 28 that Afridi's health was "alright."

Jamil Afridi said he has not seen his brother in prison, so he didn't know how he was being treated.

With additional reporting by AFP and AP