Four more PWs record statements in Pearl case
KARACHI- Four more prosecution witnesses recorded on Tuesday their statements in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping-cum- murder case before the anti-terrorism court No. 2.
Judge Abdul Ghafoor Memon put off the hearing of the case till Wednesday after the deposition of Jamil Yousuf, chief of the Citizen-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), Inspector Javed Abbas, Inspector Faisal Noor and Deputy Superintendent Police (DSP) Athar Rasheed Butt.
The three defence attorneys – Abdul Waheed Katpur for the prime accused, Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, Khawaja Naveed Ahmed for Fahad Naseem and Adil Shaikh, and Rai Bashir for accused Salman Saqib – also cross-examined the four prosecution witnesses.
The trial is being conducted inside the Central Prison, with no reporter or observer attending the court proceedings. Only the family members of the accused persons, including the father of Shaikh Omar, were allowed to attend the court proceedings. Later they and the defence counsel briefed the newsmen, who remained outside the jail for the whole day.
Khawaja Naveed told the reporters that the court proceedings commenced at 10am with the production of the CPLC chief as the second prosecution witness in the case.
“He is an agent of the Jews”, shouted Salman Saqib as Jamil Yousuf appeared in the dock for his deposition, Khawaja Naveed told the reporters.
According to Khawaja, the accused told the court that the CPLC chief himself had stripped and tortured them. “He (Jamil Yousuf) also threatened that he would also pick up our mothers and sisters and strip them, too, if we did not make confessional statements”, the counsel further quoted Salman Saqib as alleging.
The CPLC deposed before the court that the US journalist had sought on January 22 an appointment with him. He said he asked Daniel Pearl to come to his office next day at 5:45pm.
Jamil Yousuf said the journalist remained with him in his office at the Governor’s House till 6:50pm when he received a call on his cellular phone. He quoted Pearl as telling the caller that he was very close to him and would reach shortly.
The CPLC chief also placed on record certain documents, including the notification of the CPLC. The defence counsel, however, raised objection to the placing of the documents on the court record. The judge overruled the objection and observed that he would decide this point at the stage of the judgment in the case.
Prosecution witness Inspector Javed Abbas deposed that he had collected the email messages and photographs from the wife of the missing journalist. Later, he said, he with Inspector Rao Aslam proceeded to collect the record of Room No. 411 at the Akbar International Hotel in Rawalpindi, where the accused had allegedly planned the kidnapping.
DSP Athar Rasheed Butt and Inspector Faisal Noor in their almost identical statements deposed that Shaikh Omar had confessed to the crime in the presence of Judge Arshad Noor Khan of the ATC-3 on February 14, when they had taken the accused to the court for obtaining his custody for interrogation.
Khawaja told the reporters that the defence counsel raised objections to the testimonies of the two police officials.
Rai Bashir said the evidence of the police officials was not admissible under articles 38 and 39 of the Qanoon-i-Shahadat (Law of Evidence) as the confessional statement of the accused before the police had not evidentiary value.
The judge, however, observed that he would decide this point at the time of judgment. Aslam Shaikh, brother of accused Adil Shaikh, told the reporters that Shaikh Omar gave a message for the press through him. He quoted the alleged mastermind of the US journalist kidnapping as saying that the Jews and Christians had unleashed an era of oppression on the Muslims, but this was bound to come to an end very soon and they (Jews and Christians) would soon face the wrath of Almighty Allah.
Shaikh Omar was also quoted as saying that President Gen Pervez Musharraf was responsible for the killing of 50,000 innocent Afghans during the US-led operation in Afghanistan. He also urged the people not vote for Gen Musharraf in the upcoming referendum.
Khawaja Naveed also told the reporters that the court issued a show-cause notice to the investigation officer of the case, Inspector Hameed Ullah Memon, for sitting in the courtroom during the depositions of the prosecution witnesses.
The counsel said he and other defence attorney raised objection to the presence of the IO in the courtroom as he was not supposed to be there during the deposition of the prosecution witness. The judge ordered him to explain his position on Wednesday, otherwise why action not be taken against him for interfering in the court proceedings.
The US journalist, whose body has not yet been found, was allegedly kidnapped in front of a restaurant near the Metropole Hotel on Jan 23. A video tape received by the US consulate in Karachi on Feb 21 documented his murder.
The court, which has so far recorded the statement of five prosecution witnesses, put off the hearing of the case till Wednesday for recording further evidence in the case.
Nasir Abbas, the 32-year-old taxi driver who last dropped the US journalist near the Village restaurant on Jan 23, had recorded his statement as first prosecution witness on Monday.