ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has challenged the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) decision to acquit four men in the Daniel Pearl murder case in the Supreme Court.
The SHC had commuted the death sentence awarded to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, convicted for kidnapping and murdering US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, to seven years while three others who were serving life terms were acquitted.
A two-member SHC bench, comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Sangi, had announced the verdict on the appeals filed by the four men against their 2002 convictions by an anti-terrorism court (ATC).
The Sindh government had announced it would file an appeal against the SHC order immediately after the verdict was announced. It also decided to detain the accused for three months under the Maintenance Public Order (MPO) Ordinance.
The Sindh government had prepared the final draft of appeal against the Sindh High Court’s order for acquittal and release of prisoners in the murder case. The provincial government hired services of private counsel Farooq H Naek and another Lahore-based lawyer to plead the appeal in the apex court.
Earlier, the Sindh prosecutor general also recommended the provincial government to hire a private counsel. The federal law department also assisted the provincial prosecution department in drafting the criminal appeal.
The appeal against the SHC ruling will be filed at the principal seat of the Supreme Court in Islamabad. Under the law, the appeal can be filed within 30 days but the apex court has relaxed the limitation in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
The slain journalist’s family has also sought a legal opinion from Pakistani lawyers who advised them to file an appeal. A senior lawyer believed that there were glaring flaws in the SHC judgment which could be suspended by the apex court.
Pearl was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, who was investigating armed groups in Karachi when he was kidnapped in January 2002 and was found beheaded weeks later.