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September 29, 2020

Daniel Pearl case: SC restrains Sindh govt from releasing main accused for a week

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September 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday restrained the government of Sindh from releasing the main accused in the Daniel Pearl murder case for a week.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard the criminal petition filed by the government of Sindh for leave to appeal under Article 185(3) of the Constitution against the impugned judgment passed by Sindh High Court on April, 2. The parents of the slain journalist — Ruth Pearl and Judie Pearl -- have also filed criminal petition against the acquittal and release of the four accused.

While an appeal has also been filed by the main accused Ahmed Omar Sheikh against his conviction. The court admitted for regular hearing, the appeal of Sindh government against the impugned judgment passed by Sindh High Court on April, 2 and issued notices to the respondents. The court restrained the provincial government from releasing the main accused British-born Ahmed Omar Sheikh, main accused in the case for a week whose detention period will end on September 30.

The court also approved the petition of the parents of slain journalist and adjourned the hearing until Wednesday. Farooq H Naek, counsel for Sindh government and Faisal Siddiqui, counsel for parents of Daniel Pearl argued before the court.

On last hearing held on September 15, Additional Prosecutor General Sindh Hussain Buksh Baloch sought adjournment as he submitted that Prosecutor General Sindh Fiaz Shah could not turn up due to the death of his mother.

The court then had referred the matter to Chief Justice of Pakistan to fix the instant appeals before September 30 as the duration of detention of the main accused Ahmed Omar Sheikh is going to expire on the said date.

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 sentence.

Danie Pearl was doing research on religious extremism when he was kidnapped in Karachi in January 2002. Next month a video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate, followed by the arrest of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a Pakistani British, who was later sentenced to death by a trial court.

Hour after their acquittal, the provincial government ordered three months detention of the four accused, which was first due to expire on July 2 but later on it was extended up to September 30.

The Sindh government, however, through Prosecutor General Fiaz Shah had challenged the SHC verdict in Supreme Court on April 22, contending that the High Court 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.