Shakeel Afridi, jailed after helping the CIA in their hunt for Osama bin Laden, faces fresh legal turmoil after the tribunal hearing his appeal was dissolved, officials said Thursday.
Afridi was jailed for 33 years in May 2012 after he was convicted of ties to militants, though some U.S. lawmakers said the case was revenge for Afridi helping in the search for the Al Qaeda chief. Afridi was convicted under Pakistan’s 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 Jan. 26,” said Pir Fida, a senior lawyer and outgoing member of the tribunal. 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.
Pakistan’s Army were hugely embarrassed by the May 2011 U.S. Special Forces raid—conducted without Pakistani knowledge—that found and killed bin Laden in Abbottabad.
The CIA recruited Afridi for a fake vaccination program 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 Pakistani 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.
The CIA’s fake vaccination campaign increased Taliban opposition to immunization drives, which the militants say are cover for spying, and attacks on health teams have claimed 74 lives since December 2012.