A Pakistani court on Saturday reserved its judgement on an appeal filed by Doctor Shakil Afridi, arrested for helping the US track al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, against a 33-year prison term given to him.
The Commissioner of Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), Munir Azam, reserved the verdict after hearing arguments by the defence and prosecution and is expected to deliver it next month.
Dr Afridi’s lawyers appealed against his conviction for treason for alleged links with the banned Lashkar-e-Islam group and requested the court to declare the sentence null and void.
The appeal further said Dr Afridi should be given a chance to be heard by a ‘jirga’ or tribal council under the FCR, a British-era law.
Dr Afridi, arrested immediately after the May 2, 2011 raid by US commandos that killed bin Laden, has not yet been charged for helping the CIA track the former al-Qaeda chief through a fake vaccination campaign in the garrison town of Abbottabad.
Bin Laden was killed in the unilateral US military raid in Abbottabad, sending bilateral relations into a spin and embarrassing Pakistan’s powerful military.
After a court in the semi-autonomous Khyber tribal region gave Dr Afridi the 33-year prison term, he was held at the central prison in Peshawar.
Legal experts and rights activists had challenged the verdict. The US has been pressing Pakistan to release Dr Afridi.