New trial ordered for doctor who aided CIA

A senior judicial official on Thursday overturned the prison sentence of a Pakistani physician who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden and ordered his retrial, citing procedural problems with the initial trial.

Sahibzada Mohammad Anis ruled that the person who sentenced Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison was not authorized to hear the case, a government spokesman said.

Afridi was convicted in May 2012 of “conspiring against the state” by giving money and providing medical treatment to Islamist militants in Pakistan’s Khyber tribal area, not for helping the CIA track down bin Laden. The doctor’s family and the militants denied the allegations.

The case has caused friction between Pakistan and the United States, where officials have long called for Afridi’s release. On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that Afridi’s continued detention “sends exactly the wrong message.”

“We hope this latest development leads to an outcome that reflects the fact that bringing Osama bin Laden to justice was clearly in Pakistan’s interest — as well as ours,” Harf said.

— Associated Press

Terror group leader reportedly detained

Indian intelligence agencies have arrested one of the leaders of a domestic terrorist group blamed for a series of bombings in the nation’s cities, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Thursday.

Yasin Bhatkal was arrested Wednesday night on India’s eastern border with Nepal, Shinde said. Police say Bhatkal is a founder of the Indian Mujahideen, a group that has been linked to the banned Pakistan-based Islamist rebel group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has asserted responsibility for some previous terrorist attacks in India.

The government outlawed the Indian Mujahideen in 2010 after it was suspected of involvement in a deadly attack on a cafe popular with foreigners in the western Indian city of Pune.

— Associated Press

Egypt signals ban on Al Jazeera affiliate: Egypt’s interim government called a local affiliate of
Al Jazeera that broadcasts in Arabic a national threat, moving closer to banning its broadcasts beamed from Qatar after the affiliate aired recordings of declarations by fugitive leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Qatar-based television network said four journalists working for its English service were arrested in Cairo.

Deadly vehicle bombings hit Iraq: A bomb hidden inside a pickup truck loaded with vegetables exploded in a market in Samarra, about 65 miles north of Baghdad, the deadlier of two vehicle bombings that killed 24 people in Iraq on Thursday. That blast and another in the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib followed a spate of car bombings and other attacks a day earlier that killed at least 82.

Mali coup leader removed as monitor of military reform Mali’s interim government announced the removal of Gen. Amadou Sanogo, who led a coup last year, as head of a military committee tasked with reforming the West African country’s armed forces. The move gives a clean slate to president-elect Ibrahim Bouba­car Keita, elected by a landslide in an Aug. 11 runoff. Sanogo had remained influential behind the scenes after the March 2012 coup that plunged Mali into crisis.

Liberia university rejects all 25,000 applicants: Officials at the University of Liberia, the country’s largest, said the entire applicant pool of nearly 25,000 students failed its entrance exam, putting a spotlight on the country’s troubled education system. The official explanation is that the test was graded using raw scores, rather than grading on a curve, for the first time. But some applicants are accusing the university of fraud and have organized a march Friday to demand a refund of their exam fees.

Domestic abuse outlawed in Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has passed landmark legislation aimed at protecting women, children and domestic workers against domestic abuse, a human rights official said, in a move aimed at reducing hidden violence against women in the kingdom. The “Protection from Abuse” law is the first of its kind in the ultraconservative country.

— From news services