Islamabad, May 2: The parents of murdered American journalist Daniel Pearl have approached Pakistan’s Supreme Court to challenge the verdict by the Sindh High Court in April that overturned the death sentence for British-born mastermind Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had been convicted in the case in 2002.
Two criminal petitions were filed by lawyer Faisal Siddiqi on behalf of the parents—Ruth Pearl and Judie Pearl—against the acquittal and release of the four accused, The Hindustan Times reported.
“The decision by the Sindh High Court to free the men in the murder of Daniel Pearl is a complete miscarriage of justice. It is a defining case for the Pakistani state and its judicial system, involving freedom of the press, the sanctity of every life, freedom from terror and the manifestation of a welcoming and safe Pakistan to the world. Rarely has any court case embodied and risked such fundamental values,” Siddiqi said.
The petition states that the Sindh high court had failed to note that this was a brutal murder as a result of international terrorism and the principle of the standard of proof, as well as the benefit of doubt in cases of international terrorism, has to be applied keeping in the context that the nature and type of evidence available in such terrorism cases cannot be equated with cases involving non-terrorism crimes.
The petition further submitted that the high court also erred in failing to take into consideration that Ahmad Omar Sheikh had a history of involvement in international terrorism.
Pearl, who worked for the Wall Street Journal, went missing in Karachi in January 2002. A video showing his beheading was sent to the US consulate in Karachi almost a month later.
Sheikh’s sentence was commuted to seven years and a fine was imposed on him. Three other accused – Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim – were also acquitted.
The provincial Sindh government then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court and pleaded for reinstating the sentences that had been given to the accused persons by the trial court.