Crime & Justice

Pakistan’s top court orders release of accused in Daniel Pearl murder case

Islamabad, Jan 28 (efe-epa).- The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday ordered the release of the main accused and three other suspects in the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, overturning the authorities’ appeal against a lower court’s order to commute their sentences.

Thursday’s decision came in response to appeals filed by the government of the Sindh province and Pearl’s family against the Sindh High Court’s decision to commute the death sentence of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, who had been convicted of killing Pearl, a journalist for United States-based newspaper Wall Street Journal.

“Today a three member bench dismissed our appeals by a majority of two-one decision and ordered to release all the suspects in Daniel Pearl case,” Salman Talibuddin, the advocate general of Sindh, told EFE.

The decision was announced in a brief notification, and the details about the grounds on which the appeals were dismissed will be known only after the full judgment is published.

“Today’s decision is a complete travesty of justice and the release of these killers puts in dangers journalists everywhere and the people of Pakistan,” the Pearl family said in a statement released via their lawyer.

The authorities have not yet revealed a date for the suspects’ release.

“Of course they will be released” unless arrested in another case, Talibuddin asserted.

The Sindh High Court had commuted Sheikh’s death sentence in a decision on Apr. 2.

The court had acquitted Sheikh, a British born Islamist, of murder and modified his sentence to seven years in prison, on lesser charges.

The accused had been in jail on death row for about 18 years and was expected to be released soon since the seven-year sentence would have counted as time served, but the provincial government ordered his rearrest and has kept him in preventive custody until now.

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