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June 25, 2019

PHC puts KP govt on notice in Shakil Afridi’s review petition

Peshawar

June 25, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Monday put on notice the provincial government in a review petition filed by Dr Shakil Afridi who was handed down 23-year jail term for having links with a banned militant organization.

Dr Shakil Afridi, who was awarded the sentence under the defunct Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), is seeking his acquittal. A division bench comprising Justice Abdul Shakoor and Justice Ijaz Anwar issued the notice to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general to submit the record of the case at the next hearing.

The bench also put on notice the government in a separate application in which Dr Shakil Afridi is seeking court order to suspend the conviction and release him on bail as he has been under detention for eight years.

The court also put on notice Dr Shakil Afridi in a state appeal filed against the decision of the FCR commissioner against the reduction of 10 years sentence of Dr Shakil Afridi from 33 to 23 years.

Senior lawyer Abdul Latif Afridi and Qamar Nadeem appeared for Dr Shakil Afridi in the review petition. However, Additional Advocate General Riaz got the notice as he was present at the court in other cases.

Dr Shakil Afridi has been under detention since 2011 after the law-enforcing agencies took him into custody for allegedly helping the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to track down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

A resident of Khyber tribal district, Dr Shakil Afridi has been engaged in a legal battle since his conviction by the then assistant political agent (APA) Bara in May 2012.He is undergoing 23-year prison term after being convicted on multiple charges of anti-state activities, including extending support to militant outfits.

Dr Shakil Afridi’s review petition has been pending since June 2014. It was filed against the decision of the FCR commissioner, who reduced his conviction from 33 to 23 years. The state has also appealed against the decision of the FCR commissioner to cut his 10-year sentence.

In the review petition, the petitioner stated that it is the right of every accused to defend himself but in the present case neither an opportunity of defence was given to the petitioner nor right of cross-examination was given to him.

Qamar Nadeem appearing for Shakil Afridi pointed out that no proper hearing had been made in the review petition of Dr Shakil Afridi at the Fata Tribunal during the last five years. He stated that the Fata Tribunal used to adjourn the case for months primarily due to unavailability of the case record. He said the public prosecutor remained absent from the hearing when the political administration produced the record.

Qamar Nadeem said the court would fix hearing in the case within 15 days as the PHC chief justice had passed directions that review petitions transferred from abolished Fata Tribunal would be heard within 15 days.

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