Ex-FATA Tribunal defers Dr Shakil Afridi’s petition until next year

Lawyer contends his client has completed his term and should be released


Shahabullah Yousafzai December 05, 2018
Dr Shakil Afridi. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

PESHAWAR: Dr Shakil Afridi— the doctor who helped American spies track down Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in an Abbottabad compound — saw hearings on his petition to review a tribal court’s sentence adjourned until the next year without making any progress after the tribunal in which the petition had been filed was rendered defunct by the Peshawar High Court.

His lawyer, however, has expressed concerns over Dr Afridi’s well-being.

Dr Afridi had been sentenced to spend 33 years in prison on four different charges by a tribal court. He had filed a review against his sentence before a Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata) Tribunal.

But the tribunal adjourned the hearings without any proceedings until January 31, 2019, because the tribunals had been declared as dysfunctional following the landmark decision of the provincial and federal government to merge the tribal areas with the settled areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) had subsequently declared the tribunal as dysfunctional.

Qamar Nadeem, Dr Afridi’s lawyer, has meanwhile expressed concerns over his client’s wellbeing while being held under high-security at the Sahiwal prison and has stressed on the urgency of resolving their petition.

“The jail superintendent has subjected him (Dr Afridi) to continuous mental torture,” Nadeem alleged.

Nadeem further said that Dr Afridi had been sentenced by the political administration of Khyber Agency under the draconian Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR).

He added that they reserve the right to appeal while the FCR commissioner had also ignored several facts while upholding his conviction.

Calling the Fata Tribunal a ‘so-called court’, Nadeem said that it has been adjourning the review petition on ‘flimsy grounds’ and that Tuesday’s adjournment was the 45th such motion.

Nadeem further said that Dr Afridi had been sentenced to 33 years in jail, in three different cases. Legally, a “concurrent sentence” would mean that a sentence of ten years on three different counts has been served.

“So we should say that he has fulfilled his sentence and now his detention is unlawful” Nadeem contended. He had earlier in April suggested that Dr Afridi’s term, following a series of remissions, would end in late May.

But the government has yet to release him.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2018.

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