Islamabad/Peshawar: A Pakistani tribunal today completed hearing a review petition filed by Shakeel Afridi, the doctor arrested for helping the CIA track Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, and reserved its verdict.
The three-member Federally Administered Tribal Areas Tribunal heard Afridi`s petition seeking a fresh trial for charges levelled against him so that he could defend himself through his counsel.
"The final verdict on our review petition would be announced on December 18. We are hoping that there is a fresh trial and witnesses are called again," Samiullah Afridi, the doctor`s counsel, told PTI.
Afridi, arrested soon after the May 2011 unilateral raid by US commandos that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, petitioned the tribunal in October.
Though he was arrested for running a fake vaccination campaign to trace bin Laden, Afridi was convicted by a court in the tribal areas for treason over alleged ties to the banned Lashkar-e-Islam militant group.
On August 29, an official in the tribal belt had overturned the 33-year jail term given to Afridi in May 2012.
Frontier Crimes Regulation Commissioner Sahibzada Mohammad Anees ruled a judge in the tribal areas had exceeded his authority in sentencing Afridi. He also ordered a fresh trial.
In his review petition, Afridi contended there was ambiguity in the order issued by Anees. He said he had approached the tribunal, an appellate court, to clear this ambiguity so that a fresh trial is conducted and a ban on his bail during the trial is removed.
Afridi further said the trial court must summon jirga members and witnesses in his presence and the court must pass a just and reasonable order in his case.
Due to threats to his life, Afridi asked the tribunal to direct authorities to conduct his trial in Peshawar Central Prison.
Bin Laden`s killing sent US-Pakistan ties into a tailspin and embarrassed the powerful military.
Legal experts and rights activists had challenged the sentence given to Afridi. The US too has been pressing Pakistan to release Afridi.