On Thursday, Sindh High Court overturned the murder conviction of Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh in abduction and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, announced the verdict on the appeals filed by the convicts 18 years ago after hearing arguments and examining the record and proceedings of the case.
Sheikh’s lawyer, Khwaja Naveed, told AP that he could go free unless the government decides to challenge the court’s decision. Saeed has already spent 18 years in prison on death row. The seven-year sentence was to be counted as the sentence served.
“The murder charges were not proven, so he [court] has given seven years for the kidnapping. Omar has already served 18 years, so his release orders will be issued sometime today. He will be out in a few days,” Naveed told Reuters by telephone.
The Sindh High Court also acquitted three others accused in the case: Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil, and Salman Saqib, who were earlier sentenced to life in prison. Khwaja Naveed said, “Justice has been done to my clients.”
The SHC further dismissed an appeal of the state seeking enhancement of life term of three co-accused.
Read More: Verdict on Appeals in Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl Murder Case
In 2002, Shaikh Omar and other convicts moved the SHC to challenge their convictions by the ATC in Hyderabad after finding them guilty of kidnapping and killing Daniel Pearl. Hashim, Asim alias Qasim, Hassan, Ahmed Bhai, Imtiaz Siddiqui, and Amjad Farooqui had been declared proclaimed offenders by the trial court.
The 38-year-old South Asia bureau chief from The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pearl was researching a story on religious extremists in January 2002 in Karachi.
Counsel for the appellants, Rai Bashir and Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, argued that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove its case against their clients beyond a reasonable doubt and that the prosecution witnesses were primarily the police and that their testimony could not be invoked.
Deputy Attorney General Saleem Akhtar supported the trial court’s verdict and argued that the prosecution had no doubt proven its case against the appellants and asked the court to dismiss the appeals.
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