Court extends remand of suspects in Pearl case
KARACHI- The prime suspect in the Daniel Pearl case, Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, and two others told the Administrative Judge of the anti-terrorism courts on Monday that police had forcibly obtained their signatures on blank papers, while police obtained their further remand for 14 days, till March 12.
Justice Shabbir Ahmed in his order directed police not to coerce the accused for obtaining confessions nor signatures on blank papers during custody.
Ahmad Omar Saeed Shaikh, Mohammed Salman and Mohammed Adil were brought to the Sindh High Court amid tight security with their faces muffled with white cloth, to obtain their further remand from Justice Shabbir Ahmed, who is also the Administrative Judge of the anti-terrorism courts.
Police have made out a case under sections 365/A/302/109/34 PPC FIR 24/2002 read with sections 7 (a) 8 (a) (b) (c) 11/A (a) (b) (c) 6 (2) (a) (b) (c) (e) (f), 11/H (324) 11/V (1) (a) (b) (2) 11/L (a) (b) 6/7 A (b) (c) (e) 11/H-2/ (a) 2 (b) 11/w (1) (2) 17 of ATA.
The suspects were taken to the chamber of Justice Ahmed, as hundreds of policemen lined up in the corridor to make way for the accused.
Afterwards Raja Qureshi, the Advocate-General Sindh, who was accompanied by the Superintendent Police (SP) investigations II, Manzoor Mughal, and the investigation officer, told newsmen that police obtained a further remand for 14 days under sub-section 5 of section 19 of the amended ATA laws.
The police remand had been obtained to enable them to find the dead body of Daniel Pearl and recover weapons, he said. Answering a question, he said it would not be an indefinite process. He claimed that the prosecution had discovered a new piece of evidence but did not present it today before the Administrative Judge. It would be presented in the final challan, he said.
He claimed that the suspects told the Administrative Judge that they were not manhandled or tortured during custody.
While granting the remand, Justice Ahmed in his order said one of the accused, Ahmed Omar Shaikh, had stated that during custody police had been pressured to obtain his confession and his signature on blank paper which had been obtained. So was the statement of the two other accused.
Justice Ahmed in his order also directed police not to coerce the accused and not to obtain their signatures on blank paper during the remand.
Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, counsel for Salman and Adil, told newsmen after police obtained remand that Omar Shaikh, who was composed and calm, told Justice Ahmed that “he has been in police custody for 20 days and now they are seeking my signatures for extracting my confession, which I do not want to make. Yesterday I was forced to sign blank papers.” The other two accused complained of the same, he said.
The prime suspect in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping case, Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, had on Feb 14 stated before an ATC judge that as far as he understood the US journalist was dead. He had also stated that “I did kidnap him,” adding: “I don’t want to defend the case.”
Khawaja Naveed told newsmen that police had shown Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, Syed Salman Saqib, Mohammed Adil and Fahad Naseem in custody. Fahad has been remanded in jail custody after recording his section 164 statement.
The names of the absconders are Amjad Husain Farooqi alias Hyder Farooqi alias Hasan Mansoor, Asim alias Qasim, Hashim alias Arif, Hasan, Imtiaz Siddiqui, Ahmed Bhai and an unknown person who took photographs of Daniel Pearl in captivity with camera and sent these through e-mail to the international media.
The accused, who were handcuffed and hooded, were brought to the Sindh High Court about 1:30pm in an armoured personnel carrier of Garden police station. They were produced before Justice Shabbir Ahmed in his chamber about 1:40pm and taken back about 1:55pm.
Later on, Mohammed Saleem, elder brother of accused Shaikh Mohammed Adil, and his mother complained that police were not letting them to meet the accused. According to them, about 2:20am on Feb 5 plainclothes men, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, jumped into their house in North Karachi and took Adil away. They went to Buffer Zone police station but could not get any information. On Feb 6 they came to know of his arrest in the case through newspaper reports.
Adil’s brother said the accused, who had been associated with the Special Branch of police for 13 years, had never taken bribe, and he had been associated with Jihad for about two years.
Salman Saqib, Fahad and Adil Shaikh, who have been linked with the high- profile kidnapping case of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl were arrested in Gulistan-i-Jauhar for their alleged involvement in sending e-mail messages containing the abducted journalist’s pictures in captivity, allegedly on the instruction of the prime suspect, Shaikh Omar Saeed.