Daniel Pearl case Pakistan top court backs acquittals

KARACHI, Pakistan

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday refused to suspend the acquittal of four men in the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

A three-judge panel turned down the plea while hearing the appeals filed by the government and Pearl’s parents challenging the acquittal of the previously convicted men by the high court, local broadcaster Geo News reported.

The judges asked the prosecution to first clarify to the court if the slain reporter was kidnapped for ransom, and later murdered.

The top court ordered the prosecutors to present more documents to support their case. The court adjourned the hearing until June 15.

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil were found guilty of abducting and beheading Pearl in Pakistan.

In June 2002, an anti-terrorist court sentenced Sheikh to death and the other three to life.

But last month, nearly 18 years after the convictions, a two-judge panel of the Sindh High Court in Karachi acquitted all defendants, declaring the prosecution had failed to prove the case.

The court ordered their release from custody but the government, citing “public safety” concerns, barred the move after strong criticism from Washington.

Pearl, a former South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped in January 2002 and killed after a month in Karachi.

His dismembered body was found on the northern outskirts of Karachi four months after his disappearance.

In 2011, an investigative report by Georgetown University in the US claimed Sheikh and the other three men had been wrongly convicted for the murder.

The investigation led by Pearl’s colleague, Asra Nomani, who accompanied him during his Pakistan visit, claimed the one responsible for his abduction and beheading was Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks.

He was arrested by Pakistan and handed to the US in 2003 and is currently awaiting trial at the American base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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