Daniel Pearl’s family condemns release of accused in Pakistan

The family hopes men involved in the 2002 killing will remain in jail, calling the court’s decision to release them ‘travesty of justice’.

The Sindh High Court in Pakistan's Karachi city [Rizwan Tabassum/AFP]

The family of American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002, has expressed hope that the men involved in the crime will remain in jail, calling a provincial court’s decision to issue their release orders “a travesty of justice”.

Four men, including British-Pakistani Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, were convicted of kidnapping and murdering the Wall Street Journal reporter.

Sheikh was given a death sentence while the three other men were handed life imprisonment.

In April this year, Sheikh’s sentence was modified to seven years in prison and the other three were acquitted.

The same court ordered their release on Thursday.

In a statement sent to Al Jazeera on Friday, Pearl’s family said the “murderers should remain in jail” before the appeal on the acquittal decision that is to be heard by the Supreme Court on January 5.

‘Travesty of justice’

“We refuse to believe that the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people will let such a travesty of justice tarnish the image and legacy of Pakistan,” said Ruth and Judea, Pearl’s parents, in the statement.

“We believe that our son’s murderers should remain in jail because of the Supreme Court appeals, and we are also heartened to hear the Government of Pakistan is filing an appeal against the latest release order so that our son’s murderers will remain in jail and justice will prevail.

“We have full confidence in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to provide justice for our beloved son and reinforce the paramount importance of the freedom of the press.”

The 38-year-old journalist from Encino, California, was abducted in Karachi in January 2002.

Sheikh was convicted of aiding the kidnapping after helping lure him to a meeting.

Thursday’s court order, seen by Al Jazeera, noted that “none of the petitioners are ‘enemy aliens’ … and as such their detention under this sub Article of the constitution is found to be illegal and without lawful authority”.

Exit Control List

The court order added that all four will be placed on the Exit Control List – which would bar them from leaving the country – until the appeals have been decided by the Supreme Court.

The Pearl family’s lawyer, Faisal Siddiqi, told Al Jazeera on Friday that all four should remain in jail as the Thursday court order “said they should be released unless there is an order from the Supreme Court to keep them in jail and there is such an order”.

He said the Supreme Court of Pakistan is going to resume hearing on the appeals against the Sindh High Court’s acquittal on January 5 to determine whether the men were guilty of the charges and should be held in jail.

“Our position is that the acquittal judgement of the Sindh High Court [in April] is wrong as it is based on the assumption that Daniel’s body was never found, which is wrong. His body was found and he is buried in Los Angeles,” Siddiqi told Al Jazeera.

“We are confident that once the hearing resumes on January 5, the Supreme Court will serve justice to Daniel’s family.”

Source: Al Jazeera