PESHAWAR: The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Tribunal on Thursday adjourned till Dec 1 the hearing of a petition of Dr Shakil Afridi challenging the upholding of his conviction by an appellate forum for having links with militant outfits.

“No progress took place in the case due to non-availability of the prosecutor concerned,” said advocate Qamar Nadeem Afridi, representing Dr Shakil.

The tribunal, which is the third and final judicial forum available under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, comprising its chairman Sange Marjan Khan and members, Hussainzada Khan and Atif Nazir, decided to adjourn hearing of the case.

The FCR Commissioner, which is the appellate forum under the FCR, had on Mar 15, 2014 upheld the conviction of Dr Afridi for being linked to a banned militant organisation of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency but reduced his original prison term slapped by the assistant political agent’s court from 33 years to 23 years and that of the Rs320,000 fine to Rs220,000.

Through the present revision petition Dr Afridi has challenged the decision of commissioner.

The tribunal also adjourned hearing of a petition filed by the administration of Khyber Agency against the reduction of sentence of Dr Afridi by the commissioner.

No noteworthy progress has been taking place in the case for the last around two years. Initially, despite repeated notices the administration of Khyber Agency had not been submitting record of the case. In July, this year they finally submitted the record.

Dr Afridi was taken into custody in May 2011 by intelligence agencies on suspicion of arranging a fake vaccination campaign at the behest of American CIA in Abbottabad. However, he was not convicted on that charge.

The assistant political agent, who is also the additional district magistrate of Bara, convicted him on May 23, 2012 for involvement in anti-state activities by supporting the Bara-based Lashkar-i-Islam, and sentenced him on different counts to a total of 33 years’ imprisonment with fine of Rs320,000.

The petitioner, Dr Afridi, claimed he was denied the right to fair trial and was convicted by the assistant political agent on ‘flimsy grounds’.

The petitioner has contended that the FCR Commissioner had ignored several facts while upholding his conviction. He stated that earlier the commissioner was sent back the case by the tribunal for clarifying certain points, but instead of clarifying those points the commissioner upheld the decision of the APA.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2016

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