ISLAMABAD: The Sindh High Court will announce its judgment on Thursday (today) on appeals filed by Ahmed Omar Sheikh and three others against their conviction in the kidnapping and murder case of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
After five days of consecutive hearings, a high court division bench led by Justice KK Agha had reserved its ruling on March 6.
Pearl, a US national and the South Asian region bureau chief of Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped on January 23, 2002 in Karachi and later beheaded by his captors when their demands were not met.
The main convict, Ahmad Omer Sheikh, was sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing the journalist, and his three accomplices, Fahad Naseem, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Muhammad Adil, were sentenced to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs500,000 each by a Hyderabad anti-terrorism court on July 15, 2002.
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The lawyers for the four men contended that the prosecution had failed to provide enough evidence to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that their clients participated or abetted in the crime.
The court had also directed the convicts to pay Rs2 million to the victim’s widow, Marianne Pearl. The convicts had filed appeals in the high court on July 19, 2002, pleading to nullify their sentences and conviction. The state had also filed an appeal seeking enhancement of the three co-accused’s life terms to capital punishment.
In 2014, an anti-terrorism court had acquitted Qari Hashim, a co-accused in the case due to a lack of evidence.
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The same year, Sheikh allegedly attempted suicide in his prison cell by hanging himself with
a cloth from the ventilator. The then deputy jail superintendent Majid Akhtar had told The Express Tribune that the prison staff thwarted his attempt.
In January 2011, a report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University following an investigation into his death made chilling revelations when it claimed that the wrong men were convicted for Pearl’s murder.