Pearl murder trial resumes today
KARACHI- The trial of 11 people accused of kidnapping and murdering US reporter Daniel Pearl is due to resume here on Friday although seven of the suspects remain at large.
Police said none of the seven had surrendered or been apprehended since their arrest was ordered by an anti-terrorism court judge and the trial, being held behind closed doors in a prison here, would go on without them.
‘So far we have not been able to arrest any of the seven accused, whose non bailable warrants of arrest were issued on April 5,’ Manzoor Mughal, heading the police investigation.
The hunt for the seven will continue alongside the search for Pearl’s body and the murder weapon, he said.
‘Police parties in the last couple of days raided hideouts of the accused in Punjab, but could not find any of them,’ Mughal said without elaborating.
Anti-terrorism court Judge Arshad Noor Khan last Friday adjourned proceedings until April 12 to allow the seven to surrender.
British born Sheikh Omar, the prime suspect and self-confessed kidnapper, appeared at the hearing. Sheikh Adil, Salman Saquib and Fahad Naseem, accused of e-mailing pictures of the Wall Street Journal reporter with a gun to his head, were also in court.
All have been charged with murder, kidnapping for ransom and terrorist activities, crimes punishable by death.
‘I can’t say what will happen in Friday’s hearing, as it will again be the day for the prosecution to submit a report on the seven absconding accused,’ Omar’s defense lawyer Abdul Waheed Katpar said Thursday. Chief prosecutor Raja Qureshi was unavailable for comments.
The trial is being held behind closed doors and Sindh Home Secretary Brigadier Mukhtar Sheikh told the sources that journalists would not be allowed to attend.
The trial is seen as the most important court proceedings in Pakistan since former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faced tax evasion and hijacking charges two years ago.
Source: The Nation