Supreme Court appeal in Daniel Pearl case next week

Interior ministry says Sindh govt to challenge SHC ruling as per law; US calls for justice

Rizwan Shehzad April 03, 2020
Daniel Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped on January 23, 2002, from Karachi, and later beheaded by his captors. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry said on Friday the Sindh government would file an appeal against the provincial high court ruling in the Daniel Pearl case in the Supreme Court next week.

A statement from the ministry said that the federal government was “well aware of the facts of the judgment” issued by the Sindh High Court (SHC) in on April 2.

“Federal Government is concerned about the decision however, as per constitutional scheme of things prosecution in criminal matters is a provincial subject, therefore similar concern has been shared with the Government of Sindh,” the statement read.

It added that the Sindh government has decided to file an appeal next week against the judgment before the top court “in order to ensure that the ends of justice are met”.

“Government of Pakistan has asked Government of Sindh to dedicate its best resources in the pursuance of appeal before the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan,” the ministry said, “Government of Sindh has been advised to consult Attorney General for Pakistan in the matter as well.”

Sindh police detains Daniel Pearl murder accused after their acquittal by SHC

In the meantime, the statement added, all the accused in the case have been arrested and detained under Section 3(1) of the West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order, 1960, for a period of 3 months, pending filing of the appeal in the apex court.

The ministry said that “Government of Pakistan reiterates its commitment to follow due process under the laws of the country to bring terrorists to task”.

On Thursday, the SHC had acquitted four men, including Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding Pearl’s murder. The other three were sentenced to life.

Pearl, 38, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was investigating militants in Karachi after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped in January 2002. Later, he was beheaded.

Almost two decades after the accused were found guilty and jailed, a division bench, comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Sangi, pronounced the verdict that was reserved on appeals filed by the four men against their convictions.

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was handed down death penalty by an anti-terrorism court in Hyderabad on July 15, 2002, for masterminding the murder. He was in jail for 18 years awaiting the outcome of the appeal.

“The court has commuted Omar’s death sentence to a seven-year sentence,” Khawaja Naveed, the defence lawyer said. “The murder charges were not proven, so he has given seven years for the kidnapping,” he added.

Meanwhile, the US State Department reacted to the development saying the “overturning of the convictions for Daniel Pearl’s murder is an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere”. The US welcomed Pakistan’s decision to appeal the verdict, saying that “those responsible for Daniel’s heinous kidnapping and murder must face the full measure of justice”.

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