SC extends Umer Sheikh’s detention in Pearl’s murder
ISLAMABAD – Accepting the appeals of Sindh government and Daniel Pearl’s parents, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued notices to the respondents and extended detention of Umer Sheikh, who had allegedly beheaded the reporter of The Wall Street Journal.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam conducted hearing of the appeals of Sindh government and the parents of Daniel Pearl against the SHC verdict to acquit the alleged murderers of Daniel Pearl.
During the hearing, Farogh H Naik, Special Prosecutor General Sindh, contended that the conspiracy was hatched when Umer Sheikh, a British-born Pakistani national, who is on death row, had met with Daniel Pearl in a hotel in Rawalpindi and introduced himself as Muhammad Bashir.
Justice Qazi Ameen said that for the circumstantial evidence all the events are needed to be interconnected. He asked that who had seen and recognized the main accused, Umer Sheikh. The Sindh prosecutor contended that in identification parade the taxi driver had recognized Umer Sheikh.
Justice Amin said that according to the prosecution case main statement is of the taxi driver. He said that Daniel’s body was not found then how the taxi driver recognized him.
Farooq H Naek argued that the taxi driver had recognized Daniel Pearl with the help of pictures.
Faisal Siddiqui, appearing on behalf of Daniel Pearl’s parents, adopted that filing of appeals by all the parties proves that the Sindh High Court decision was wrong. The prosecutor general said that Umer Sheikh was also involved in the hijacking of Indian plane, therefore, remained in jail in Indian-held Kashmir.
Farooq Naek argued that the SHC had rendered judgment on seven points, including murder, kidnapping, recovery of body, and conspiracy surrounding the killing of Bureau Chief of Wall Street Journal in Pakistan. He contended the SHC had ignored the finding of the trial court on these aspects.
Justice Qazi Muhammad Ameen Ahamed said that they have to examine the case of Daniel Pearl murder in totality of the circumstances and the jurisprudence developed by this court.
Later, the apex court deferred hearing for one week in this case.
Daniel Pearl was killed in Karachi in January, 2002. His wife Mariane Pearl on 04.02.2002 had filed an FIR at Artillery Maidan Police Station Karachi. Trial Court on 15-07-2002 convicted Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh and awarded him death sentence, while Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim were given life imprisonment under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
The convicts had challenged the sentence in the Sindh High Court. The State also filed Special Anti-Terrorism appeal for enhancement of sentence of life imprisonment awarded to Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim in the SHC. A Division of the High Court, Karachi, heard the appeals together and on 02-04-2020 acquitted the accused. It also held that the subject case does not fall within the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and Omer Sheikh is entitled to both remissions in accordance with law and the benefit of Section 382-B, Criminal Procedure Code, 1898.
The Sindh prosecution later on April 22, 2020 filed an appeal under Article 185(3) of Constitution in the Supreme Court, while the Daniel’s parents – Ruth Pearl and Judea Pearl – on May 2 filed the constitutional petition.
It is their stance that the SHC wrongly held that the convictions and sentences awarded by the trial court to the respondents No.2 to 4 and Ahmed Omer Shaikh could not be sustained on the basis of the standard of proof, meaning that the prosecution has not been able to prove the case against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt and the benefit of doubt must go to the accused persons.
They submitted that these facts are admitted, firstly, the deceased person was abducted. Secondly, the deceased person was abducted / kidnapped for ransom as ransom emails were received and recovered. However, what is denied by the Respondents No.2 to 4 and Ahmed Umer Shaikh is their role in sending the ransom emails but not the fact that the ransom emails were actually received. Thirdly, the deceased person was brutally murdered by way of beheading.