Pakistan court commutes US journalist Daniel Pearl murder-convict's death sentence
A Pakistan court on Thursday commuted the death sentence of a convict in the 2002 murder of United States journalist Daniel Pearl. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was convicted of abducting and killing journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi. Sheikh's death sentence has now been commuted to a prison term of seven years. Reportedly, he will be released from prison in a few days.
Sheikh's death sentence commuted; 3 other convicts acquitted
According to Reuters, a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court overturned Sheikh's death sentence on Thursday. The court also acquitted three other convicts—Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib, and Sheikh Adil—who were earlier handed the life sentence. Since Sheikh has already served 18 years in prison since 2002, he will be out in a few days, lawyer Khawaja Naveed told Reuters.
Murder charges were not proven, says lawyer
Speaking to Reuters over the phone, Naveed said, "The court has commuted Omar's death sentence to a seven-year sentence." "The murder charges were not proven, so he has given seven years for the kidnapping," the lawyer added, "Omar has already served 18 years, so his release orders will be issued sometime today. He will be out in a few days."
Provincial prosecutor considers filing appeal against court decision
Sindh Prosecutor General Faiz Shah told Reuters he would consider filing an appeal against the court's decision. Shah said, "We will go through the court order once it is issued, we will probably file an appeal."
Who was Daniel Pearl?
Pearl worked as the South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal and was based in Mumbai. The 38-year-old US journalist was researching a story on Pakistani terrorists for the publication in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US. During the course of his research in Karachi in January 2002, Pearl went missing.
Video of Pearl's murder was sent to Karachi US consulate
Pearl's remains were found in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Karachi. About a month after he went missing, a graphic video was sent to the US consulate in Karachi showing Pearl's captors forcing him to say he was Jewish before slitting his throat.
Sheikh convicted in 2002 shortly after Pearl's murder
An anti-terrorism court convicted Sheikh shortly after the video surfaced. However, a group of US journalists, including Pearl's former colleagues revealed in 2011 that they believe Sheikh did not carry out the journalist's murder. In 2007, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, had confessed to Pearl's murder in a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Did you know: Sheikh was arrested in India in 1990s?
Sheikh is a British citizen of Pakistani origin. In the 1990s, he was arrested in India for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of Western tourists in J&K for ransom to help terrorists. Sheikh was released by Indian authorities in late-1999 with Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar and terrorist Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar to meet the demands of terrorists who hijacked an Indian aircraft to Kandahar.