Wheels of justice: Vital week for Shakil Afridi

FATA Tribunal to announce decision on review petition today, separate murder trial to begin on Dec 20.

Noorwali Shah December 18, 2013
Dr Shakil Afridi. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


The present week is a crucial one for Dr Shakil Afridi, the incarcerated surgeon who allegedly helped the US in tracking down Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in May 2011.

Afridi was first tried by the Khyber Agency administration and given a 33-year sentence for aiding members of banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Islam. That sentence was overturned by the late Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) Commissioner Sahibzada Muhammad Anis in August this year and the case was handed back to the Khyber Agency political agent for a retrial. Later, a resident of Bara filed a murder case against Afridi for allegedly killing a patient of his around eight years ago.

After the 33-year sentence was overturned by the commissioner, a group of lawyers representing Afridi expressed reservations and filed a review petition at the Fata Tribunal, demanding enhanced rights to defend their client under the law and the local custom.

The tribunal has reserved its decision on the review petition and is set to announce the verdict on December 18 (today). In their petition, Afridi’s lawyers have demanded fresh trials, new jirga members, right of bail and recording of statements in front of the accused.

Moreover, this week will witness the initiation of the murder trial against Afridi which begins on December 20 inside the Peshawar Central Jail and will be headed by the agency’s political agent.

With two significant developments that will determine Afridi’s fate on the horizon, the doctor’s defence seems to be crumbling.

Samiullah Afridi, a key counsel of the accused in the panel of lawyers defending him, has left the country owing to threats to his life. Moreover, neither Afridi’s family nor the other lawyers have any knowledge of the contours of the murder case that is set to begin in a couple of days.

Last week, Jamil Afridi, the imprisoned surgeon’s brother, while sharing his views with a local newspaper, hinted at approaching the Peshawar High Court after the tribunal’s decision. Jamil had cast serious reservations over the present proceedings during the last hearing of the tribunal on December 9 and said he is not expecting a just verdict from these courts. He said his brother has been made a scapegoat in the case.

On December 1, Afridi had written to his lawyers informing them of various problems he faces inside the prison. He urged them to approach relevant officials to provide him a B-Class facility inside the jail, allow conjugal visits and keep him updated on the progress of cases against him.

Samiullah’s loss is likely to cause a serious dent in Afridi’s defence. It was he who had spearheaded Afridi’s defence after challenging the 33-year jail sentence in June last year. It is reported that Samiullah had been receiving threats for a while but the nature of those threats took a serious turn after the last hearing of the Fata Tribunal during which it had reserved its decision.

The panel of lawyers who challenged the 33-year conviction includes Ijaz Mohmand, Qamar Nadeem Afridi, Sartaj Ahmad and Raza Khan Safi.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2013.


AnisAqeel | 7 years ago | Reply

Stop playing politics and ruining justice system just to keep him behind the bars. Think of consequences and line of cases to avenge doctors for any deaths under their care. If convicted, half of the Pakistani doctors can be jailed on murder charges, have some sense and throw this case out.

MAD | 7 years ago | Reply

Now this is crap. Stop trying him on trumped up charges. Instead try him for Treason under article 6 (or whatever applies)

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