On Monday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan reportedly stayed the release of the prime accused in the 2002 murder of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) correspondent Daniel Pearl. The journalist was kidnapped from Karachi and beheaded later while he was doing research on religious extremism.
The apex court of Pakistan had barred the release of Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, in its order to the Sindh government. The Supreme Court is currently hearing appeals, challenging the Singh High Court’s decision to acquit the dreaded international terrorist. The appeals against the release of Sheikh came up before the three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Mushir Alam, and Justice Qazi Amin Ahmed.
They had requested the Chief Justice that the appeals be heard throughout the day, keeping in mind that the detention of the terrorist, on the orders of the Sindh government, under Section 11 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 will expire on September 30. He was earlier detained under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) law.
Underlying conspiracy in the killing of Daniel Pearl
During the hearing, Sindh government advocate Farooq Naek informed the Court that the accused was identified by taxi driver Nasir Abbas, receptionist Amir Afzal, besides 21 other witnesses during an identity parade in front of the Magistrate. Reportedly, the terrorist had met journalist Daniel Pearl at the Akbar International Hotel under the pseudonym of Bashir.
The State-counsellor Farooq Naek revealed an underlying conspiracy. He stated that the initial plan was to collect ransom from Daniel Peral and not to kill him. The Court pointed out that the body of the journalist was never found and no autopsy was ever conducted. The Supreme inquired as to how charges were framed against Sheikh. Naek informed, “Kidnapping charges were proven. The Sindh High Court should have ordered a retrial instead of overturning the death sentence.”
Sindh High Court dismissed murder and ransom charges, observes Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Pakistan then pointed out as to how the case was made on the basis of the statement of taxi driver Nasir Abbas. Justice Qazi Amin remarked, “The taxi driver’s statement is the basis for the government’s case. His body was never found so how did the taxi driver identify Pearl.” Farooq Naek responded, “He identified him after looking at a picture.”
Justice Qazi Amin noted, “It looks like the high court wrapped up the matter after giving punishment only for the crime of kidnapping.” He added that the Sindh High Court acquitted the international terrorist on charges of murder and kidnapping for ransom. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Sindh government against releasing Sheikh until all appeals are heard in the case. The Court has been adjourned until Wednesday.
Sindh High Court overturns death sentence of Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh
Earlier in April this year, the Sindh High Court had overturned the death sentence and murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. The lawyer for the terrorist had 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.
Parents of Daniel Pearl appeal against Sindh High Court decision
Later in May, the parents of deceased Daniel Pearl had moved the Supreme Court against the overturning of death penalty for Sheikh. 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.