ISLAMABAD: The Sindh prosecutor-general has approached the Supreme Court with the prayer to hear the appeal against the accused in Daniel Pearl murder case at an early date. In a petition filed on Tuesday, the prosecution requested SC to fix the appeal against the acquittal of the accused in the next week, commencing from May 4, 2020.
On April 2, 2020, the Sindh High Court had overturned the death sentence of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh - the man convicted of kidnapping and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, to seven years. The SHC had also acquitted three others who had been awarded life imprisonment in the case. The order came almost two decades after they were found guilty and jailed.
On April 22, the Sindh prosecutor-general challenged SHC's verdict in the apex court. Advocate Farooq H Naek – who is also a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader – is to plead the case on behalf of the PPP-led Sindh government.
Three separate criminal petitions have been filed seeking death penalty for all accused on the same grounds.
The petitions contend that the “last seen evidence”, “impersonation” and “identification parade” duly proved the crime of the accused and were maintained concurrently by both the lower courts.
Moreover, the videocassette was never challenged which showed the act of murder and the same was verified by a public official.
“In view of these collective proofs together with the clear and categorical confessional statements of respondents and the co-accused, the acquittal and modification of sentence through the impugned judgment is not sustainable and is liable to be set aside.
“Similarly, the evidence of natural and independent witnesses i.e PW-14 and PW-18 confirmed the demand of ransom made by respondents accused and which fact also stood proven through documentary evidence,” said the criminal petition.
The petition further said the offences created a sense of fear and terror in the minds of the public at large, both nationally and internationally, and as such all the accused were guilty of the charges leveled against them on all counts.
“The SHC has failed to appreciate the aggravating factors involved in the case. The acquittal of the accused and modification of death sentence in the absence of the mitigating circumstance caused a serious miscarriage of justice and violates the principles settled down by SC,” added the petition.
It said the SHC while giving benefit to the accused relied upon press clippings but the press clippings showing the confession of the accused Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh which he had categorically made before the trial court were neither considered nor appreciated.
The petition stated that SHC had failed to consider the cognitive question of accused’s robust affiliation with a proscribed organization and having a hardened criminal background.
Earlier on April 2, a two-member bench of the SHC, comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Sangi, had announced the verdict on the appeals filed by the four men against their convictions by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in 2002.
Hours after the acquittal the Sindh government arrested the released convicts again under Section 3(1) of West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960, and announced its decision to appeal the high court's order in the apex court.
Daniel Pearl, 38, was abducted while researching on a story on religious extremists in Karachi in January 2002. He was the South Asia Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal at the time. Nearly a month later, the US consulate received a graphic video showing his murder. Appellant Sheikh was arrested and convicted in the same year.
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