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Dr Aafia’s trial in US: LHC asks govt to weigh ICJ option

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has observed that the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqi’s repatriation and detention in America can be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) under the “Pakistan Friendship and Commerce Treaty” without the consent of the US administration.

Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry observed this while disposing of a petition filed by Barrister Iqbal Jaffree seeking release of Dr Aafia from the American detention.

The petitioner had also challenged the allocation of a huge amount for American lawyers by the Pakistani government to contest Dr Aafia’s case in US courts.

The judge directed the foreign ministry to examine the referring of the matter to the ICJ and decide the same within a month from the announcement of the court verdict.

In his order, the judge held that the then Islamabad High Court in its verdict had already issued direction to the foreign ministry to find ways and means, firstly through diplomatic channels for repatriation of the Pakistani woman scientist and recovery of her minors, and if they failed in their pursuit, examined filing of reference to the United Nations.

The judge also observed that the allegations of paying huge amount to US lawyers for receiving kickbacks was based on suppositions and no proceedings could be initiated merely on suspicion unless some proofs were provided, which for the time being were lacking and the petitioner might approach afresh, if he got cogent evidence to supplement the said allegations.

Justice Ijaz further observed that the issues raised in this petition did not come within the domain of habeas corpus and those also involved factual controversy, which could not be resolved without recording the evidence and this was not permissible.

The judge, however, before parting with the petition directed the authorities to consider and pay any fee to the petitioner who filed different petitions before courts in public interests, if he was entitled under any rule.

The petitioner had taken a plea that the allocation of $2million (Rs170million) by the government for fighting Dr Aafia’s case through three lawyers in America was only to fill pockets of some people and the needful would remain unachievable.

He said the government had set aside such hefty amount for fighting the case while it did not bother to write to the ICJ spending a small amount to take up the matter.

He had prayed to the court to restrain the spending of the said amount on fighting and moving the ICJ.
Source: Dawn
Date:9/10/2009

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