Key suspect in Daniel Pearl case dies
KARACHI, May 18: Fourteen days after he was produced before the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad on a stretcher, Saud Memon, 46, who allegedly owned the shed where Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was executed, died here on Friday at a private hospital.
Memon was wanted by law-enforcement agencies in the Pearl case for supposedly providing the place where Pearl was slain and subsequently buried.
Memon, who was abducted on January 23, 2002 from Karachi, was a businessman dealing in yarn. He was in the ICU of Liaquat National Hospital, where he died on Friday afternoon.
He was buried at a local graveyard following funeral prayers at a mosque near his house after Maghrib prayers. Dr Ali Azmat Abidi of the Liaquat Hospital told the Associated Press that Saud Memon died from tuberculosis and meningitis. He leaves his wife, four sons and a daughter.
Initially, the deceased’s 21-year-old son Fahad Memon agreed to talk to the media, but when a couple of newsmen reached Memon’s residence in Nazimabad No 4, the family refused to talk.
However, a spokesman for the family, Sohail Ahmed Siddiqui, said that on April 28, Saud Memon was released somewhere close to his residence. He was brought to the house by some neighbourhood people who had recognised him.
“Saud had lost his memory. He was not able to recognise any of the family members, nor was he able to speak. Thus we cannot confirm where he was kept and who his captors were,” a visibly apprehensive Siddiqui said.
Memon, who had slipped out the country following the Denial Pearl murder, was believed to have been nabbed from South Africa in March 2003 by the FBI. He was reportedly kept at the Guantanamo Bay prison for over two years and then handed over to the ISI.
“We don’t know who had been holding him for the past over four years, but my brother had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or Daniel Pearl’s murder,” Saud Memon’s brother Mahmood Memon told AP.
Investigators had said they wanted to question Memon to find out who had used the shed where Pearl was supposedly executed, but no police or government official ever acknowledged his arrest. He was never formally charged.
Manzoor Mughal, a senior police official leading the Pearl case, told AP that he did not know Memon had been arrested and freed.
A three-member Supreme Court bench, comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, has taken up petitions of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar for recovery of missing people and complaints of Amina Masood Janjua, Saqlain Mehdi, Aisha, Abdul Ghaffar, Amtul Hafiz, Fatima, Mohammad Ikram Alvi, Arif Abbasi and Syed Babar.
“This skeleton of a man has a reward of Rs3 million on his head in the Red Book of our Interior Ministry,” advocate Shaukat Akhtar Siddiqui told the court, pointing to the emaciated body of Saud Memon. “Now he weighs only 18 kg, shrunk into a skeleton, and can neither walk nor hold his head,” Siddiqui added.
The court had directed that Memon be shifted to the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi or any convenient health facility for his medical check-up and restrained the authorities not to arrest him before approval of the court.