By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In an interview with the BBC, Lawyer Samiullah Afridi said his defense of Dr. Shakil Afridi Would end due to continual death threats against him over the last two years. Samiulla, who is not related to his client, had at one point left the country out of fear for his safety.
We previously discussed the worsening situation for lawyers in Pakistan defending those accused of infamous crimes and civil rights issues in the Murder of Attorney Rashid Rehman.
The controversy regarding Dr. Afridi began after United States special forces operators raided the compound of Usama Bin Laden in 2011. The doctor was arrested by officials in Pakistan for allegedly supporting militant groups and was given a thirty three year prison sentence by a tribal court in 2012. A court in Peshawar reduced his sentence to ten years however he faces additional charges alleging he colluded with the CIA. Dr Afridi is accused of using the cover of a door-to-door vaccination campaign to help the US find Bin Laden.
The conviction was widely seen by many as actually punishment for allegedly aiding in Bin Laden’s demise, a charge Dr. Afridi denies.
Samiulla said he was offered a reprieve for his defence of the doctor where militants offered him the chance to go out “the right way” by leaving the case and abandoning his client. He lamented “I took the case on humanitarian grounds, but now I have to look for my own life, it is more important.”
Samiulla is one of four lawyers representing the doctor, said he had “no option” but to quit the case. He added that US pressure to release Dr Afridi was complicating the case.
By Darren Smith
Source: BBC News
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