Lawyers for the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Usama bin Laden fear for their safety, with one attorney showing FoxNews.com evidence bullets were fired at his office and another fleeing the country and abandoning work on the case.
Dr. Shakil Afridi’s lead attorney, Samiullah Afridi, fled Pakistan on Wednesday amid threats from militants and just ahead of a crucial court decision that could result in a new trial for Afridi, who is serving a 33-year sentence widely seen as punishment for helping the U.S. The lawyer and client are not related.
“We all have been receiving threats from many quarters for a long time but we ignored them,” said Qamar Nadeem, who is a cousin of the doctor and also a member of his legal team. “I think someone spooked him enough to leave.”
Nadeem said thugs showed up at Samiullah Afridi’s office to deliver the latest threat. It was unclear what intimidation tactics were used to coerce him, but he is believed to have fled to Dubai. The incident apparently came immediately after Samiullah Afridi went public with a letter he received from Afridi, smuggled out of Peshawar Central Jail.
Afridi, whose vaccination ruse helped verify the terror kingpin’s presence in an Abbottabad compound ahead of the May 2, 2011 raid in which Navy SEALs killed him, is awaiting a crucial tribal court decision that could grant him a new trial. He is serving a 33-year sentence for conspiring with terrorists, but the charge is widely viewed as punishment for aiding the U.S. in an incident that proved embarrassing to Pakistan.
Nadeem said he will represent Afridi at a Dec. 18 proceeding at which a tribal court is expected to rule on whether or not he will be granted a new trial. He vowed to press Afridi’s case even as sources close to the matter said forces aligned against Afridi are stepping up efforts to intimidate his legal team. One member showed FoxNews.com several apparent bullet holes in his office, which he said he’d been too scared to report to authorities.
“He’s not likely to get a fair trial,” security analyst Wajahat Ali told FoxNews.com. “Anyone who tries to get him a fair hearing will have to contend with tough circumstances.”
The tribal judge who ordered Afridi’s retrial in August died in a mysterious tragic accident in late October at his Islamabad residence. Though official medical and police report claim a gas leak caused an explosion in which he suffered serious third degree burns across his body, Afridi’s supporters believe he was murdered. His ruling was appealed and the upcoming hearing will determine whether it will be followed or dismissed.
On Wednesday Jamil Afridi, elder brother of doctor visited the prison to deliver fresh clothes and food along with Nadeem but was denied a meeting and prison officials refused to take the items to the doctor.
“We weren’t allowed to meet him,” said Nadeem. “It’s been 17 months since we last saw Shakil.”