ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court adjourned until today hearing into the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, heard the criminal...
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court adjourned until today (Thursday) hearing into the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, heard the criminal petition filed by the Government of Sindh as well as parents of Daniel Pearl for leave to appeal under Article 185(3) of the Constitution against the impugned judgment passed by the Sindh High Court on April 2. Continuing his arguments, Farooq H Naek, counsel for the Sindh government, read out the statements of the prosecution witnesses and the evidence on record regarding the conviction and sentence awarded by the anti-terrorism court. Farooq H Naek submitted that there were five issues that had to be determined for the purpose of reaching a conclusion, whether any abduction was done or not, whether a conspiracy was hatched amongst the absconding accused persons, which are seven in number as well as the four accused who were in the court today as respondents in the appeal. Similarly, he questioned as to whether the abduction of Daniel Pearl took place through the accused persons, including the prime accused Ahmed Omar Sheikh and whether emails were sent.
The counsel for the Sindh government submitted that the first email was sent on 27th of January 2002 and there were four demands made by the kidnappers asking the government to accept it for the release of Daniel Pearl. As those demands were not met, the second email was sent on 30th of January 2002, again threatening to kill Daniel Pearl if the demands were not met, Naek submitted.
Reading out the statement of prosecution witness 7 Aamir Afzal Qurashi, Farooq H Naek submitted that the first meeting took place on February 26, 2002, wherein the prime accused Ahmed Omar Sheikh was staying in a hotel in Rawalpindi with the name of Muzafar Farooqi.
The counsel for the Sindh government, however, contended that Muzafar Farooqi introduced himself to Daniel Pearl as Bashir.
Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, another member of the bench, asked the learned counsel about the place of identification parade. Farooq H Naek replied that the identification parade of the Prosecution Witness No 7 Aamir Afzal Qurashi was held in the court on June 23, 2002.
The judge again asked as to whether the court had recognized the statement of the PW-7 Aamir Afzal Qurashi, Farooq H Naek replied in affirmative.
Farooq H Naek also referred to Prosecution Witness No 6 Arif, a journalist, and submitted that he was brought by one Arif to the said hotel but he (Arif) was absconding. The learned counsel contended that Arif, the absconding accused, had introduced the US reporter for meeting with Muzaffar Farooqi.
Farooq H Naek submitted that Arif had asked at hotel reception for meeting with Muzaffar Farooqi, which proves that Arif knew that Omar Shaikh was staying in the hotel with the name of Muzaffar Farooqi.
He contended that concealing his identity, it was proved that Ahmed Omar Sheikh was hatching a conspiracy for abduction.
“What was the motive behind the abduction of Daniel Pearl? He was not a beautiful woman,” Farooq H Naek contended adding that further evidence will come how the conspiracy was hatched.
The learned counsel for the Sindh government submitted that the murder of US journalist was part of international terrorism. Elaborating his point, Farooq H Naek cited the remand order of March 12, 2002 wherein the prime accused Ahmed Omar Sheikh had shown apprehensions that he might be repatriated to the US. Farooq H Naek was arguing when the court’s time got over and the hearing was adjourned for today (Thursday) wherein he will continue his arguments.
On April 2, a two-member bench of the high court, headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, had overturned the death sentence for British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was convicted 18 years ago by an anti-terrorism court in the kidnapping and beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl. The accused had filed an appeal in the high court against their conviction by the trial court after finding them guilty of abducting and killing Pearl.
The court had also overturned the convictions of three other men Fahad Nassem, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Muhammad Adil in the case. The court had held that three of the four accused ‘not guilty’ while the prime accused Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh’s death sentence has been overturned into a seven year jail sentencing.
The Sindh government, however, through Prosecutor General Fiaz Shah, had challenged the SHC verdict in the Supreme Court on April 22, contending that the High Court has erred in dealing with the legal question of burden of proof as the prosecution had safely discharged the burden to prove the guilt of the accused/respondents by producing cogent and sufficient evidence.