Pakistan appeals against acquittal in Daniel Pearl murder case

Provincial government petitions Supreme Court to review decision to free Omar Sheikh and co-accused convicted of killing the US journalist.

The Wall Street Journal's reporter Daniel Pearl was killed in 2002 [File: Ian Waldie IW/NMB via Reuters]

The provincial government in Pakistan’s Sindh has petitioned the Supreme Court to review its decision to free two men convicted of kidnapping and beheading US journalist Daniel Pearl.

The move on Friday came a day after the court acquitted British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Faisal Siddiqi, who were convicted for the Wall Street Journal reporter’s murder in 2002.

The decision outraged the United States and extended a legal tug of war between the Sindh government – which kept the group behind bars using emergency powers – and the courts.

Fiaz Shah, prosecutor general for Sindh government, told AFP news agency it has lodged a review of the verdict at the Supreme Court in the capital, Islamabad.

“The petition was filed to seek a review and request the court to recall the order of acquittal,” Shah said.

Pearl was the South Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about armed fighters.

Nearly a month later and after a string of ransom demands were made, a graphic video showing his decapitation was given to officials.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh

British-born Sheikh, who once studied at the London School of Economics and had been involved in the kidnapping of foreigners previously, was arrested days after Pearl’s abduction.

He was later sentenced to death by hanging after telling a Karachi court that Pearl had already been killed days before the gruesome video of the journalist’s beheading had been released.

The top court’s ruling on Thursday followed an outcry last year when a lower court acquitted 47-year-old Sheikh of murder and reduced his conviction to a lesser charge of kidnapping – overturning his death sentence and ordering him to be freed after almost 20 years in prison.

That sparked a series of petitions, including from Pearl’s family, but the Supreme Court rejected them in a split decision, upholding the acquittal.

The Sindh government has not released Sheikh and three accomplices who were also acquitted, provincial Information Minister Nasir Shah said.

Source: News Agencies