PESHAWAR: Dr Shakeel Afridi, who allegedly helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, challenged his conviction in the court of Commissioner Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) here Friday.
On May 23, Assistant Political Agent (APA) Nasir Khan of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency had convicted Dr Afridi on charges of colluding with the outlawed, Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militant group.
He sentenced Dr Afridi to 33 years in prison and fined him Rs320, 000 under sections 121-A, 123, 123-A and 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) read with section 11 of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
Dr Afridi filed appeal against his conviction in the court of Commissioner FCR through a panel of tribal lawyers including Samiullah Afridi, Ijaz Mohmand, Qamar Nadeem Afridi, Sartaj Ahmad and Raza Khan Safi.
Samiullah Afridi told The News that the appeal was filed through Dr Afridi’s brother Jamil Afridi as the authorities at the Peshawar Central Prison have neither attested the lawyers’ power of attorney nor allowed anyone to meet him.
It was stated in the appeal that Dr Afridi had no association with the defunct organisation LI operating in the Khyber Agency. It was submitted that under the law every accused person had the right to defend himself or engage legal counsel for fair trial, but in the case of Dr Afridi no opportunity of defence or fair trial has been given. The petition argued that the trial in the court of APA Bara was unlawful and liable to be dismissed.
It said that according to the impugned order the appellant was arrested on May 23, 2011 and was handed back to the trial court on May 11, 2012. His counsels questioned that the order didn’t explain as to where and with whom the appellant was detained after his arrest.
In the appeal, Jamil Afridi termed the allegations against his brother for extending Rs2 million financial assistance to LI and providing treatment to its commanders was false and baseless. He claimed that the LI kidnapped Dr Afridi on April 1, 2007on charges of not providing treatment facilities to the LI men and the residents of Khyber Agency. He insisted that his brother was freed after paying Rs1 million as fine through some influential people, including Dr Mohsin. “How can my brother assist a defunct organisation that kidnapped him and received ransom from him for his release,” Jamil Afridi questioned.
The appeal noted that the prosecution had failed to produce independent witnesses and evidence against the appellant in the trial. It said the accused had been convicted on the basis of mere allegations.
The appellant also raised the question of powers in the appeal, stating that 33 years conviction to a person in any case was beyond the powers and jurisdiction of the APA, who acts as an additional magistrate and has the power to sentence an accused to a term not exceeding seven years under the FCR.
It said the APA did not conduct fair trial as he had neither given the right of defence to the appellant nor convened the jirga (judicial commission) on his consent, which recommended the sentence.
The appellant prayed to the court of the Commissioner FCR to accept the appeal against the APA’s conviction order passed on May 23 and acquit him.