Indictment of accused in Pearl case on 22nd
KARACHI- The Anti-terrorism Court No. 3 put off on Friday the hearing of the Daniel Pearl kidnapping case till 22nd, when Ahmed Saeed Omar Shaikh, the alleged mastermind of the US journalist’s kidnapping, and three others codefendants would be indicted in the case.
No reporter or observer was allowed to attend the court proceedings, being conducted on the premises of the Central Prison, Karachi. The defence attorneys later briefed the newsmen on the proceedings.
Judge Arshad Noor Khan also declared seven absconding accused as proclaimed offenders after the police process server told the court that Amjad Hussain Farooqui alias Haider Farooqui alias Hasan, Asif alias Qasim, Hashim, Qari Abdul Qadeer, Hasan alias Ahmed Bhai, Imtiaz Siddiqui and a person who purchased the Polaroid camera could not be tracked down as they had gone underground.
“I am innocent and committed no kidnapping or murder”, Abdul Waheed Katpur, the attorney for Shaikh Umar, quoted his client as telling the court.
Mr Katpur also moved an application of the contempt of court against President Pervaiz Musharraf on behalf of his client for making a statement to the effect that he wanted to see the main suspect put to death.
The judge issued notice to the prosecution for the arguments on the maintainability of the contempt of court application against the President. The application will come up on the next hearing.
Rai Bashir, a Lahore-based lawyer appearing for accused Salman Saqib, told sources that he had moved an application for the certified copy of the videotape, documenting the murder of the US journalist. However, the court dismissed the application telling the defence counsel that the tape was not available on the court record so far.
Mr Bashir also filed another application for the medical treatment of his client. The judge allowed the application and ordered the administrator of the hospital of Saqib’s choice to arrange the examination of the accused by Dr Tabish Chawala on the premises of the prison.
Khawaja Naveed, counsel for Adil Shaikh and Fahad Naseem, said that the court allowed the mother and brother of accused Adil to visit him. He said he also requested the court to allow the relatives of his clients to attend the court proceedings. The advocate general sought time in that connection.
The US journalist, whose body has not yet been found, was allegedly kidnapped from in front of a restaurant near Metropole Hotel on Jan 23. A videotape received by the US consulate in Karachi on Feb 21 documented his murder.
In his application of contempt of court against General Musharraf, Saeed stated that being the head of the state, he is the fountain of power as well as the fountain of justice. “But to demand the sentence of death for Omar is to tell the courts to convict and sentence the accused to capital punishment”.
He further stated: “The effect of the statement issued by the respondent may place the judges upon the horns of a dilemma to hold themselves accountable to the “Mighty Musharraf” or to Mighty Allah”.
The applicant prayed: “In the light of foregoing submissions, it is respectfully submitted that the honourable court may be pleased to issue process against the respondent under section 3 and 4 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1976, read with Article 2A and 204 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and if it is proved that the respondent has committed a contempt then the honourable court may be pleased to proceed against the respondent according to the law of the land”. Meanwhile, the father of Omar Saeed Shaikh, said he did not expect a fair trial. “We are not going to have a fair trial”, he said.
He further said: “I handed over my son to the authorities believing that justice would be done”. He said that the justice system in Pakistan and the trial of his son seemed a mockery of the criminal justice system after the statement of the President.
Saeed’s father said: “My son is being sentenced to death, even before the trial, by the President, who is otherwise supposed to provide justice to every citizen of the country.