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SC orders release of prime suspect in Daniel Pearl murder case

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the appeal of the Sindh government against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) decision to overturn the conviction of the prime suspect in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam announced a short order over the appeal and ordered to release the prime suspect Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, also known as Sheikh Omar. One member of the bench opposed the decision.

Four convicts of the murder case including Shaikh Omar, co-accused Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil had moved the Sindh High Court challenging their convictions handed down by the Anti-Terrorism Court after being declared guilty of abducting and killing the American journalist in 2002.

During the hearing on Thursday, the Sindh advocate general told the court that the prime accused has proven links to banned outfits. He said that the provincial government has handed over sensitive information to the court in a sealed envelope. “There is evidence but not prove to prove in court,” he said.

READ MORE: US ‘ready’ for trial of prime accused in Daniel Pearl murder case

Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the evidence handed over the court has not been presented before at any forum and questioned how it could be reviewed. Justice Muneeb Akhtar said that government has not declared the accused as an “enemy agent” and the state declaring its citizens as an enemy is dangerous. The Sindh advocate general replied that a person waging war against the country is called an enemy of the state.

Daniel Pearl was doing research on religious extremism in Karachi when he was abducted in January 2002. A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate a month later.

Sheikh Omar was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to death by a trial court. The Sindh High Court overturned the verdict of the ATC and acquitted the convicts on April 2, 2020.