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Daniel Pearl case: SC defers release of prime accused till tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday deferred the release of the prime accused in Daniel Pearl murder case till tomorrow (Tuesday) while hearing review petition of the Sindh government.

The one-day extension has been granted on the request of the Sindh government to review the release of Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh. The petition, filed by the Sindh prosecutor-general Sindh, also requested for an early hearing of the matter.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial heard the Sindh government’s review petition. The bench restrained the government of Sindh from releasing or issuing a new detention order of the accused.

Attorney General Khalid Javed appeared before the apex court bench and argued that the Sindh High Court has not issued a notice to the federation in the Daniel Pearl case. He said issuing a notice to the Attorney General was compulsory under the Order 127A and the reason is sufficient to declare the high court decision void.

He stated that if the decision won’t be suspended it will bring along serious consequences. He pleaded to the court to suspend the high court’s decision. “I want to present my arguments in detail in this case.”

“We are not going to suspend the decision. A citizen has been in detention, we won’t give a decision without perusal of the order sheet,” Justice Bandial observed.

Justice Bandial stated the case hearing could not be deferred for a week. The court adjourned further hearing of the case till tomorrow.

On Friday, the Sindh government through its prosecutor general had moved a petition in the apex court, pleading with it to review its decision of acquitting the accused.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Yahya Afridi, ordered that had Sheikh Omar and three other suspects – Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Muhammad Adil – be released forthwith.  A member of the bench had opposed the decision.

The suspects had moved the Sindh High Court (SHC) in 2002 challenging their convictions handed down by an Anti-Terrorism Court after finding them guilty of abducting and killing American Journalist Daniel Pearl.

The high court overturned the verdict of the ATC and acquitted convicts on April 2, 2020. The Sindh government filed an appeal in the SC challenging their acquittal.

Daniel Pearl was South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal and was researching for a story on religious extremism in January 2002 in Karachi when he was abducted and brutally murdered.