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Trial In Pakistan Again Postponed For Doctor Who Allegedly Helped Locate Bin Laden

Shakil Afridi (file photo)
Shakil Afridi (file photo)

A court in Pakistan has again postponed the trial of a doctor, Shakil Afridi, who has been languishing in jail since Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals in 2011.

Afridi reportedly used a vaccination scam to identify bin Laden's home in the garrison town of Abbottabad. He was taken into custody on May 23, 2011, 20 days after bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, was killed. The raid embarrassed many in Pakistan, souring bilateral ties with the United States.

On September 24, the Peshawar High Court said the case would resume on September 30.

Qamar Nadeem, Afridi’s lawyer, told RFE/RL on September 24 that the trial has already been postponed 16 times because the government prosecutor failed to show up.

Afridi was never charged in connection with the bin Laden operation but for allegedly aiding -- both medically and financially -- Lashkar-e-Islam militants in the nearby Khyber tribal region.

His family has denied the charges and said the only money Afridi ever gave Lashkar-e-Islam was a ransom payment worth the equivalent of $6,000 to secure his own release after the militant group kidnapped him in 2008.

He was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a tribal court, although this was later reduced to 23 years on appeal. Afridi is imprisoned in a jail in Pakistan’s eastern Sahiwal district. His lawyer says Afridi faces severe restrictions in jail.

Pakistani officials described bin Laden’s long presence in Abbottabad as a security lapse and rejected any suggestion that members of the military or intelligence services were complicit in hiding him.