A tribunal of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Peshawar on Wednesday disposed of a review petition filed by Dr. Shakil Afridi, who allegedly helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden in 2011.
After Dr. Afridi’s 33- year sentence was set aside by the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) Commissioner in August, his lawyers had filed a review petition before the tribunal seeking a trial by a sessions judge.
The three- member tribunal which reviewed the case asked the FCR commissioner to clarify his predecessor’s order. Dr. Afridi was sentenced to a 33- year jail term by the political agent in Bara for his links to a militant group Lashkar i Islam. There was no mention of his alleged “spying” activities in the case, his lawyers had contended.
The earlier FCR commissioner Sahebzada Anees died in an explosion in suspicious circumstances in Islamabad in October. The tribunal held that the Commissioner in his order in August overturning the sentence was ambiguous about who should conduct a fresh trial in the case and sought clarity on whether it should be by a political agent or a sessions judge.
Dr. Afridi’s lawyer who had appealed to the Commissioner had said in August that while setting aside the sentence, the Commissioner had said that a political agent had no authority to try the offence or pass sentence and it would have to be conducted in a sessions court by a Political agent acting as assistant judge. The Frontier Crimes Regulation meant for the tribal areas has a different system where the political agent is a judicial functionary.
Dr. Afridi’s lawyers had demanded a fresh trial by a sessions judge. However, the tribunal held that the Afridi’s offences can be tried by a political agent under FCR through a council of elders, according to media reports.
Dr Afridi’s troubles are far from over. In two days he will face a trial for murder in Peshawar jail after a fresh case was filed against him of alleged medical negligence. In November Dr. Afridi was accused
of causing the death of a youth in Khyber Agency sometime in 2006-07 during a surgery. The case was registered by the Khyber agency administration over an incident which happened when he was practicing
at a government run hospital in Bara. The mother of the boy Naseeba Gul who filed a complaint in October said that her son was operated by Dr. Afridi in a private hospital resulting in his death. The complainant said that Dr. Afridi was not a qualified surgeon and not competent to handle the surgery.