The parents of deceased Daniel Pearl, the South Asia Chief of the Wall Street Journal, have moved the Pakistani Supreme Court against the decision of Sindh High Court to free 4 convicts involved in the gruesome beheading of their son in 2002. Pearl was researching about Islamic extremism when he was abducted from Karachi and killed.
In a viral video, Pearl’s father Judea said that he was fighting not only for the justice of his son but also for his “dear friends in Pakistan” so that they can live in a society free of violence and terror and raise their children in peace and harmony. In his son’s memory, Judea stated that Daniel was committed to writing the truth and upholding principles of justice and humanity.
On behalf of the journalist’s parents, a lawyer named Faisal Siddiqi filed the petition. “The decision by the Sindh High Court to free the men in the murder of Daniel Pearl is a complete miscarriage of justice. It is a defining case for the Pakistani state and its judicial system, involving freedom of the press, the sanctity of every life, freedom from terror and the manifestation of a welcoming and safe Pakistan to the world”, he was quoted as saying.
Sindh govt challenged the acquittal at Supreme Court, re-arrested the accused persons
Before the appeal by Pearl’s family, Pakistani prosecutors had already filed an appeal against the acquittal of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and others accused in the case. The provincial govt of Sindh had filed the appeal at the Supreme Court of Pakistan after the High Court order. Sindh Prosecutor General Dr Fiaz Shah had filed the appeal at the top court on the grounds that the ‘last seen evidence’, ‘impersonation and ‘identification parade’ was proved against the accused persons and they were maintained concurrently by the trial court. The appeal had also pointed out that the video showing the murder of the WSJ reporter had been verified by a public official, an expert from PTV, and it was never challenged.
Sheikh and three others were also re-arrested by Sindh government just a day after they were freed by the court. The govt had ordered them keep in detention for three months for public safety. Police authorities had sought permission from the state govt claiming that the release of the four men could “create a law and order situation” and sought immediate action from the provincial government for safety measures, which was granted by the govt.
Today The Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the USA, appreciated the appeal filed by the Sindh govt in the case, saying that the appeal will be supported by the appeal filed by Pearl’s parents. In a tweet posted from the official Twitter handle of the bureau, chief US diplomat for South Asian affairs Alice Wells said, “on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, we honor the legacy of journalist Daniel Pearl. We appreciate the Govt of Pakistan’s 4/22 appeal to reinstate guilty verdicts against Daniel’s murderers, now buttressed by the filing of the Pearl family’s appeal before the Supreme Court”.
Death Sentence of the ‘murderer’ overturned
Earlier, a court in Pakistan had overturned the death sentence and murder conviction of a British-born terrorist, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, for the murder of Daniel Pearl 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. 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 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.
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.