Another Legal Turmoil for Shakeel Afridi

Doctor Shakeel Afridi jailed after helping the CIA in the hunt for Osama bin Laden faces fresh legal turmoil after the tribunal hearing his appeal was dissolved, officials said on Thursday. Shakeel Afridi was jailed for 33 years in May 2012 after he was convicted of ties to militants, though some US lawmakers said the case was revenge for Afridi helping in the search for the al Qaeda chief.

Shakeel Afridi

Afridi was convicted under the tribal justice system and last year a tribunal cut 10 years off his sentence. But his efforts to clear his name on appeal have been hit by long delays and adjournments and suffered another blow with Thursday’s development. “The tribunal is no longer functional because the contracts of its members and chairman expired on January 26,” Pir Fida, a senior lawyer and outgoing member of the tribunal told AFP. So far no replacements have been hired or plans made to renew the contracts, Fida added. The news was confirmed by an administrative official from the court Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Tribunal. Fida said the tribunal “has been practically dissolved” and it is now unclear when the next hearing in the case will take place. 

“They are just changing dates and adjourning cases, one after another,” Afridi’s lawyer Qamar Nadim said. The CIA recruited Afridi for a fake vaccination programme in a bid to confirm the 9/11 mastermind was living in Abbottabad. The plan was to use the drive as cover to collect DNA material after vaccinating bin Laden’s children as a way of positively identifying the al Qaeda leader. An initial investigation into the bin Laden raid called for Afridi to be tried for treason for helping the United States. In January last year, Washington linked the release of $33 million of the aid it pays to Pakistan with the release of Afridi.