KARACHI: All facilities guaranteed under the jail manual, including meetings with family members and lawyer, are being provided in prison to Ahmed Omar Shaikh, who was convicted to death for killing American journalist Daniel Pearl.
Prison authorities stated this in a report submitted to a two-judge bench, headed by Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, of the Sindh High Court (SHC), which had questioned provision of facilities to the convict in accordance with the jail manual.
Sheikh, the main convict in the foreign journalist’s murder, has challenged the death sentence awarded to him by the anti-terrorism court (ATC).
Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped on January 23, 2002, from Karachi, and later beheaded by his captors.
The main accused, Sheikh, was sentenced to death on charges of kidnapping and killing the US journalist, while his three accomplices – Fahad Naseem, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Muhammad Adil – were sentenced to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs500,000 each by the ATC, Hyderabad, on July 15, 2002. The court had also directed the convicts to pay Rs2 million to the victim’s widow, Marianne Pearl.
However, Shaikh had appealed to the high court against the death sentence and his accomplices also filed appeals later.
The state had also filed an appeal seeking enhancement of life terms into capital punishment of the three co-accused.
Sheikh is being kept in solitary confinement in a cell made for death convicts at the Hyderabad Central Jail since his conviction, as his appeal is awaiting decision since 2002.
In August, 2014, the SHC had ordered the prison authorities to provide proper facilities to Sheikh, who was confined in the ‘solitary death cell’ being a ‘condemned’ prisoner.
Sadia Rauf, the convict’s wife, had taken the provincial home and prison authorities to court for allegedly denying basic facilities to her husband in violation of the law.
She had blamed jail officials for ‘inhuman’ treatment of Sheikh in the shape of unabated solitary confinement and deprivation of all the basic facilities that he is entitled to receive under the Pakistan Prison Rules or jail manual.
The continued solitary confinement was having an adverse effect on his health but the jailer was determined to inflict torture on him by keeping him in solitary confinement and depriving him of other facilities, she had alleged.
The court was pleaded to order prison authorities to provide all the facilities, including meetings with the family members and lawyers, to the prisoner in accordance with the provisions of the jail manual.
During Friday’s proceedings, the prison authorities filed a report regarding compliance of the court’s previous order to provide facilities to the condemned prisoner. They maintained that all the facilities, including meetings with family and lawyers, were being provided to Shaikh strictly in accordance with the jail manual.
However, the convict’s lawyer was absent. Therefore, the bench adjourned the hearing for a date to be later notified by the office.