Shakeel Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA find Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, is now facing charges of murder and fraud.
“A murder and fraud case was registered against Shakeel Afridi this week after a tribal woman accused him of killing her son,” said a senior government official in Peshawar.
Naseeb Gula, from Afridi’s home district of Khyber, has accused the doctor of killing her son in 2007 by operating on him three times for appendicitis. She says Afridi is a fraud who was not authorized to operate because he is not a surgeon.
Afridi’s lawyer, Samiullah Afridi, also confirmed the charges, which come some three months after the doctor’s conviction for treason was overturned. But he finds the new charges odd: “How strange it is that the authorities registered these cases after five years.”
A hearing on the matter has been fixed for Dec. 20 in Peshawar’s main jail, where Afridi is being kept. He faces death threats from both Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant group Afridi has been accused of having links to, and the Pakistani Taliban. Jail officials, worried about a potential terrorist attack aimed at Afridi, have sought without success to move him to another facility.
Afridi was recruited by the CIA to run a fake vaccination program in Abbottabad in the hope of obtaining DNA samples to locate bin Laden, although medics never managed to gain access to the family. The doctor was arrested after U.S. troops killed bin Laden in May 2011. Islamabad branded the raid a violation of sovereignty, and its relations with the U.S. fell to an all-time low.
In 2012, Afridi was convicted of treason over alleged links to Lashkar-e-Islam, under the tribal justice system of his home district. He was sentenced to 33 years in jail and fined $3,500. Angry U.S. politicians saw the sentence as retaliation for his role in bin Laden’s capture, and last year threatened to freeze millions of dollars in vital aid to Islamabad.
In August, his sentence was overturned and he now faces a retrial.