SC refuses to suspend acquittal of Daniel Pearl murder accused

By: News Desk      Published: 01:20 PM, 29 Jun, 2020
SC refuses to suspend acquittal of Daniel Pearl murder accused
Daniel Pearl. File photo

The Supreme Court Monday rejected the Sindh government’s plea to suspend the Sindh High Court’s decision of acquitting the Daniel Pearl kidnapping and murder case accused, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

As a three-member bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam heard the matter, the counsel for Sindh government argued that the accused were international terrorists who were kept in detention under MPO (Maintenance of Public Order) since the court verdict in April.

When Justice Yahya Afridi objected to the use of word terrorists, the government counsel said one of the accused worked for a terrorist organisation in India and the other in Afghanistan. Their release could result in serious consequences, he warned.

However, Justice Afridi remarked he should remember that the accused had been acquitted by a court, as the defence lawyer informed the court that his clients had not seen sun for 18 years.

Justice Mushir Alam observed that the verdict to acquit the accused could be suspended only if there was some weakness and the government had the authority to extend the detention period under MPO.

Rejecting the Sindh government’s request, the three-member bench adjourned the hearing of this important case till September.

In early May, the parents of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl challenged the Sindh High Court’s verdict to overturn the conviction and sentencing of the four accused involved in his kidnapping and murder. The move came despite the fact that the Sindh government had already filed an appeal against the SHC judgment.

In an appeal filed with Pakistan’s top court, they pleaded to nullify the April 2 judgment and argued that the Sindh High Court did not take the evidence into consideration.

The release of the accused and reducing the sentences was against the Constitution of Pakistan, they added.

Pearl’s parents, in this connection, also released a video message in which they explained their case to the people.

The Sindh High Court had converted the death penalty of the main accused, Omer Saeed Sheikh, into seven-year imprisonment and acquitted three others who were stated to be involved in the kidnapping and murder of the American journalist. The four accused were convicted and sentenced by an anti-terrorism court in 2002.

But the judgment had prompted a strong reaction from the US which described the decision an affront. "The overturning of the convictions for Daniel Pearl's murder is an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere," said Alice Wells, the top US diplomat for South Asia.

"Those responsible for Daniel's heinous kidnapping and murder must face the full measure of justice," Wells wrote on Twitter.

Daniel, 38, the South Asian bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped on January 23, 2002, in Karachi and later beheaded when the abductors demands were not met. He was investigating a story on religious extremists.