Dr Afridi made scapegoat, alleges brother
PESHAWAR: A brother of Dr Shakeel Afridi sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA trace down Osama bin Laden has denied all charges levelled against his brother.
“My brother is innocent and has done nothing wrong. He has been made a scapegoat. He did everything in the larger interest of the country,” Jamil Afridi said at a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club on Monday.
It was the first time a blood relative of Dr Afridi appeared in public and talked to the media since his arrest and conviction.
Jamil Afridi, a government school teacher, termed his brother’s conviction “illegal and unlawful”.
Dr Afridi was convicted by the court of assistant political agent in Bara (Khyber Agency) on May 23 on four counts of conspiring against the sovereignty and state of Pakistan and jailed for 33 years and fined Rs320,000.
Accompanied by a group of lawyers, Mr Jamil said his brother had been deprived of his fundamental rights in prison and even his lawyers were not allowed to see him.
He said the authorities concerned had not provided a copy of the judgment to Dr Afridi or his lawyer, which was against the law.
“Our family does not know about the whereabouts of Dr Afridi since his disappearance,” he said, adding that every accused had the right to have representation in the council of elders (court).
Mr Jamil said a panel of lawyers had handed over power of attorney to the authorities of central jail in Peshawar, but it had been withheld.
“This is absolutely unlawful and unethical,” said Advocate Ijaz Mohmand who and other lawyers announced that they would file an appeal against the conviction before the Peshawar commissioner who hears cases of accused charged under the Frontier Crimes Regulation.
He said it was a fundamental right of family members of Dr Afridi to meet him in jail. Mr Jamil appealed to Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan to take suo motu notice and provide justice to his brother.
He defended the activities of Dr Afridi who has been accused of running a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to obtain blood sample of family members of Bin Laden who was killed on May 2 last year when US commandos attacked his compound.
“Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar and Pakistan High Commissioner in London Wajid Shamsul Hassan publicly acknowledged that the Pakistan government was aware of the presence of OBL in Abbottabad and the operation carried out by the US forces,” Mr Jamil said.
When asked about the vaccination campaign, he said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s deputy secretary of health and the district health officer had allowed Dr Afridi to carry out the campaign and the local authorities had provided 20 employees of the health department for it.
He said his brother did not feel guilty and that was the reason he did not leave the country although he had the US visa. “If he felt guilty he could flee the country before his arrest,” he maintained.