ISLAMABAD: The family of Daniel Pearl – slain US journalist for The Wall Street Journal – has decided to approach the Supreme Court against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) recent order for acquittal and release of Pearl’s alleged kidnappers and murderers.
The SHC on April 2 commuted death sentence of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh – convicted for kidnapping and murdering Pearl in 2002 – to seven years and acquitted three others who were serving life terms in the case – almost two decades after they were found guilty and jailed.
A two-member SHC bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Sangi had announced the verdict on appeals filed by the four men against their 2002 convictions by an anti-terrorism court (ATC).
Sindh’s provincial government had announced it will file an appeal against the SHC order immediately after the verdict was unveiled and also decided to detain the accused for three months under section 3 (1) of West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960. Sindh filed the appeal on April 22.
Source said Pearl’s family has engaged renowned lawyer Faisal Siddiqi to plead their case. Siddiqi will move a criminal petition against SHC judgment this week.
Meanwhile, Sindh prosecutor-general also approached the Supreme Court with a prayer to hear its appeal in the next week, commencing from May 4.
The application said sufficient evidences are available against the accused but the SHC failed to see them. “There is apprehension of absconsion/repeating offence by them hence the matter is great urgency therefore application for suspension of the SHC judgment may kindly be heard,” it said.
The Sindh government has already engaged Farooq H Naek to plead its petition.
Three separate criminal petitions have been filed on the same grounds seeking death penalty for all accused. The petitions contend that “last seen evidence”, “impersonation” and “identification parade” duly proved crime of the accused and were maintained concurrently by both the lower courts.
Moreover, it said, the video cassette was never challenged which showed the act of murder and the same was verified by a public official.
“In view of these collective proofs together with the clear and categorical confessional statements of respondents and the co-accused, the acquittal and modification of sentence through the impugned judgment is not sustainable and is liable to be set aside.
“Similarly, the evidence of natural and independent witnesses ie PW-14 and PW-18 confirmed the demand of ransom made by respondents accused and which fact also stood proven through documentary evidence,” said the criminal petition.
Related link: Dawn