Court acquits co-accused in Pearl murder case
Daniel Pearl, correspondent and South Asian bureau chief for the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped on January 23, 2002 and later murdered on February 1, 2002 in Karachi, Pakistan.
Pearl was killed while on assignment of investigating links between the Al Qaeda network and shoe bomber Richard Reid.
According to Pearl’s wife Mariane Pearl in the First Information Report, she came to know about the kidnapping from an email received on January 27, 2002. The email contained photographs of Pearl being detained in inhumane conditions and demands including the release of certain Pakistani captives from Guantanamo Bay. On February 21, 2002, Pakistan and United States of America authorities announced that they had received a video tape showing Pearl being beheaded.
On February 6, 2002, police arrested Fahad Naseem, Syed Salman and Muhammad Adil. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was later arrested on February 12, 2002. Initially all four were tried in the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Karachi; while on the criminal transfer application by the prosecution due to security concern, the case was tried in ATC Hyderabad. ATC convicted all four under Sections 120-A PPC (Criminal conspiracy), 365-A PPC (Kidnapping or abduction for extorting property, valuable security), 302 PPC read with section 6(a) (Definition of a terrorist act) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was sentenced to death while the other three convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment and fined half a million Pakistani rupees each. All the accused were also ordered to pay a total of two million rupees to Mariane Pearl, wife of Pearl.
All the convicts have appealed to the Sindh High Court. The state has also appealed to the Court, seeking death penalty for the three convicts as well. The court has not heard the appeals as of yet.
Amjad Farooqui, the absconding co-accused was killed on September 26, 2004 in an encounter with security agencies in Nawabshah district (Shaheed Benazirabad). Another co-accused absconder, Qari Hashim, was arrested by the police in August 2005 and charged but was acquitted on October 23, 2014 for lack of evidence.
Pakistan Press Foundation