PESHAWAR, July 19: Frontier Crimes Regulation commissioner Tariq Jamil on Thursday fixed for August 30 the hearing into the appeal of former Khyber Agency surgeon Dr Shakil Afridi against conviction for militant links and sentencing to 33 years rigorous imprisonment by a tribal area court.
Tariq Jamil, who is the appellate forum under FCR, fixed the date after receiving record of the case from the office of assistant political agent of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency, who had convicted Dr Shakil.
The appeal was filed by the convict’s brother, Jamil Afridi, saying the lower court passed the impugned conviction order on mere surmises and conjectures and therefore, the order should be dismissed and the appellant acquitted.
Samiullah Afridi and Qamar Nadeem, lawyers for the appellant, were informed by the court that record had been received from the APA office and the hearing would take place on August 30.
Dr Afridi was picked up allegedly by an intelligence agency in May last year on suspicion of helping CIA trace Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by carrying out a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad.
The appellant was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each under Section 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against country or depriving Pakistan of its sovereignty), Section 123 (concealing existence of a plan to wage war against Pakistan), and Section 123-A (Condemnation of the creation of the State and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) of PPC, and was sentenced to additional three years under Section 124 (Assaulting President, Governor etc with intention to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power) of PPC.
The APA pronounced that the prison terms would run consecutively, which means that Dr Afridi has to spend 33 years in prison.
Dr Afridi was shifted to the Peshawar Central Prison on May 23 after his conviction by the assistant political agent of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency. He has been kept in solitary confinement.
Only Jamil Afridi was allowed to meet Dr Shakil inside the prison once on June 4. Thereafter, no such permission was ever granted.
Mr Jamil has also filed a writ petition before the Peshawar High Court challenging the ban placed on meeting relatives with Dr Shakil in the prison.
Since his conviction, the provincial government has also been requesting the federal government to relocate Dr Afridi from Peshawar prison to some safe jail.
Denying all charges leveled against him, the appellant stated in the appeal that he had no association with defunct Lashkar-i-Islam and the members of the said outfit never sat or gathered in his office or were associated with him.
It is added that the appellant had no links with Lashkar-e-Islam and in fact he was kidnapped by the said organization in 2008 and his brother and friends were forced to pay Rs one million for his release.
“In this light, the allegations extending financial assistance of two million rupees to the said organisation are false and baseless.”
The appellant has also raised a technical point regarding powers of APA, saying the lower court being a magistrate of first class had the powers to convict a person up to seven years imprisonment but ironically the appellant was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment, which was beyond the powers/jurisdiction of APA/additional district magistrate and therefore, the order was not sustainable under the law.