SC orders shifting of Daniel Pearl murder accused from death cell to rest house
Rejecting another appeal by the Sindh government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of Ahmad Omar Saeed Shaikh, the prime accused in US journalist Daniel Pearl's murder, from his death cell, and directed authorities to shift him to a government rest house in two days, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
The apex court ordered the removal of Omar Shaikh from the death cell of the jail and be brought to a common barrack of the jail for two days and after it he should be kept at a government rest house.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench resumed the hearing of the Sindh government’s appeal against the SHC's December 24 order to release accused Omer Shaikh.
Omar Shaikh was further directed to be kept at a better location in the jail in an open room for two days before he is to be transferred to a rest house.
The court also ordered for security to be placed around the rest house and the accused not provided with mobile and internet facilities. It further allowed his family to stay with him at the rest house from 8am to 5pm.
The court further ordered that Omar Shaikh should not have access to the outside world from the rest house, adding that he should be allowed to spend Kashmir Day with his family members.
The court, before again rejecting the Sindh government’s appeal, stated that the federal government could file an appeal against the SHC's decision.
The Sindh advocate general (AG) prayed before the court that Omar Shaikh could escape after his release.
“How can the federal government object to the decision of the Sindh High Court?” Justice Muneeb Akhtar inquired, adding that it did not even challenge the SHC’s decision.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah then asked whether the court should justify the illegal detention. “Is it necessary to keep the accused in jail to prevent them from escaping?” asked Justice Umar Ata Bandial.
Responding to the court's remarks, the provincial AG replied that detainees should not be allowed to stay with their families. "Omar Shaikh can contact his family members via cell phone," the AG suggested.
To this, Justice Shah replied that according to the government, Omar Shaikh had already been using a cell phone in his jail. “We all know what happens in jail,” the judge stated.
The assistant AG prayed to the apex bench to keep the accused in Lahore. Moreover, the Sindh AG stated that Omar Shaikh’s accomplices could attack the rest house and help him escape. “Two days are being given for the government to make proper security arrangements,” Justice Bandial said.
To this, the AG replied that young soldiers were martyred while fighting terrorists only a few days ago. “There is no denying the sacrifices of the armed forces but we are bound by the Constitution,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar replied.
Omar Shaikh and other detainees cannot be called accused, Justice Umar Ata Bandial added.
“If Omar Shaikh and others are released, they will escape,” the AG prayed. “Ground realities demand that release orders be suspended.”
The court adjourned the hearing saying the bench would be available in two weeks.