The Pakistan Supreme Court Monday rejected the Sindh government’s plea to suspend the Sindh High Court’s decision of the acquittal of terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh involved in the gruesome beheading of the South Asia Chief of the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pearl in 2002. Pearl was researching about Islamic extremism when he was abducted from Karachi and killed.
Ahmed Omar Sheikh probably will go free. A fine of Rs 2,000,000 is all he’s got to pay. In the April SHC ruling, he was only charged for kidnapping and sentenced to 7 years in jail, time which he has served already! https://t.co/oJkTZmEErs— Naila Inayat नायला इनायत (@nailainayat) June 29, 2020
The three-member bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam observed that the verdict to acquit the accused could only be suspended if there were any shortcomings in the order. The court heard their appeals after 18 years and acquitted Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim in April this year. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh’s death sentence was commuted to seven years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000,000 was imposed on him. Since he has already served his jail time, he may just walk away free.
Though the counsel for Sindh government argued that the accused was an international terrorist, whose release could result in serious consequences, the three-member bench rejected the Sindh government’s request and adjourned the hearing of the case until September.
The bench not only refused to suspend the acquittal order but also castigated the counsel for Sindh government for calling the accused terrorists. During the hearing, Justice Yahya Khan remarked that the Sindh HC has acquitted the accused so how can lawyer of Sindh government call them terrorists. “How can you still call them terrorists?”, Justice Yahya Khan Afridi questioned the Sindh government lawyer as the accused have now been acquitted by the court.
Parents of Daniel Pearl moved the Pakistani Supreme Court against Sindh High Court decision
Last month, the parents of deceased Daniel Pearl, the South Asia Chief of the Wall Street Journal, had 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.
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.
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 terrorist, 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.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh is a British-born terrorist of Pakistani origin. He was arrested by Indian security agencies in connection to kidnapping of western tourists in India in 1994. However, he was released with Maulana Masood Azhar, Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group founder and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar of JKLF who is currently believed to be living in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.