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Doctor who helped find Osama bin Laden faces charges in child's death

From Jill Dougherty, CNN
updated 10:51 PM EST, Fri November 22, 2013
This photograph taken on July 22, 2010, shows Pakistani surgeon Shakeel Afridi who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden.
This photograph taken on July 22, 2010, shows Pakistani surgeon Shakeel Afridi who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dr. Shakil Afridi has been charged with murder in connection with a 2006 surgery
  • Pakistan has accused Afridi of working with the CIA to verify Osama bin Laden's whereabouts
  • U.S. special forces killed the al Qaeda leader an an Abbottabad compound in May 2011
  • The State Department is calling on Pakistan to ensure Afridi receives a fair trial

(CNN) -- A Pakistani doctor accused of helping the United States find Osama bin Laden has been charged with murder over a surgery that authorities claim he was not authorized to perform, authorities said Friday.

Dr. Shakil Afridi, who is in prison awaiting a new trial in connection with the killing of bin Laden, has been accused of performing an appendectomy in 2006 on a boy who died from complications, according to a criminal complaint in Pakistan filed by the boy's mother.

The murder charge against Afridi comes just months after a Pakistani judicial commissioner overturned his conviction for his role in the bin Laden killing, which included, among other things, running a fake vaccination trial. He had been sentenced in 2012 to 33 years in prison.

Afridi has remained in prison while he awaits a new trial on the charges related to the bin Laden killing.

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The mother of the boy, Naseeb Gulla, has accused the doctor of performing the wrong surgery, according to the complaint filed in Khyber Agency, one of the eight tribal areas of Pakistan. A December 12 trial date has been set on the charge, according to authorities.

The U.S. State Department expressed concern over the new charge brought against Afridi.

"Dr. Afridi's assistance in confirming the location of bin Laden was a service to the entire world and indeed to Pakistanis who had lost loved ones and suffered at the hands of Al Qaeda," State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said.

"We call on the proper authorities to ensure that Dr. Afridi receives a fair trial for this new charge."

Pakistani authorities have accused Afridi of working with the CIA to set up a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to try to verify bin Laden's whereabouts. U.S. special forces killed the al Qaeda leader at an Abbottabad compound in May 2011.

The vaccination effort, according to allegations in a report filed with a Pakistani appeals court, was meant to collect bin Laden's DNA so the CIA could compare it with samples of bin Laden family DNA that it already had, but no one at his Abbottabad compound agreed to be vaccinated.

The report alleged that Afridi admitted receiving $75,800 from handlers for the vaccination effort.

In 2012, senior U.S. officials told CNN that Afridi worked with the United States prior to the bin Laden raid, but was never asked to spy on Pakistan and was asked only to help locate al Qaeda terrorists posing a threat to both Pakistan and the United States.

After Afridi's imprisonment, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for his release. Clinton said Afridi "was instrumental in taking down one of the world's most notorious murderers."

Journalist Zahir Shah Sherazi in Peshawar contributed to this report.

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