A court in Pakistan has overturned the death sentence and murder conviction of a British-born terrorist for the murder of Daniel Pearl, the South Asia Chief of the Wall Street Journal, in 2002. A lawyer for the militant, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, said that his sentence was reduced to seven years on the charge of kidnapping. Pearl was kidnapped and later beheaded in Karachi eighteen years ago.
Three other men who were handed over life sentences in the case have been acquitted by the Sindh High Court and released. The High Court overturned the verdict of an anti-terrorism court. Sheikh, a British terrorist of Pakistani origin, was one of the terrorists freed by India along with Masood Azhar in 1999 to secure the release of passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814.
The verdict was delivered by a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha on the appeals filed by the convicts eighteen years ago. Sheikh’s seven-year jail term will be counted from the time he has spent in jail. He has been in prison for the past eighteen years. The lawyers for the accused argued that the prosecution had thoroughly failed to prove their case and claimed that most of the witnesses were policemen, whose testimonies could not be relied upon. Sheikh is now expected to be released from prison.
A group of US journalists had said in 2011 that they believed Sheikh was not guilty. The Pear Project claims that the murder was carried out by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, currently lodged in the Guantanamo Bay, accused of involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.