Wednesday Apr 22, 2020
KARACHI: The government of Sindh has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan over the Sindh High Court's (SHC) ruling in the Daniel Pearl case, whereby three of the four accused were acquitted and a death sentence of the prime accused was commuted.
The appeal against the SHC's April 2 ruling was filed by the provincial prosecutor-general.
The provincial government has requested Pakistan's top court to declare the SHC's ruling null and void. It has also petitioned for the death penalty of the prime accused, Omer Saeed Sheikh, to be restored. Sheikh's sentence had been converted into a seven-year imprisonment earlier.
The Sindh government has further requested the apex court to restore life sentences of Sheikh's three accomplices Fahad Naseem, Syed Salman Saqib, and Sheikh Mohammad Adil.
The three appeals by the provincial government include all four accused as party to the petition.
Earlier this month, the SHC had acquitted three of the accused in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl back in 2002. It had also converted prime accused Omer Saeed Sheikh's death penalty into a seven-year imprisonment.
A two-judge bench of the high court — headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha — had reserved the judgement in March after hearing the arguments of the appellants and the state counsel.
"The court has commuted Omar's death sentence to a seven year sentence," a defense lawyer had told Reuters by telephone. "The murder charges were not proven, so he has given seven years for the kidnapping."
"Omar has already served 18 years, so his release orders will be issued sometime today. He will be out in a few days," he had said.
Later, however, Sindh had invoked the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) law to prevent all of the Daniel Pearl murder suspects from walking free, ordering they be kept in detention for another 90 days.
The federal government had also expressed its reservations over the ruling, as per the interior ministry, which added that although it was a provincial matter given that it was a criminal case, it had been taken up with the Sindh interior ministry as well.
The centre, according to the interior ministry, had advised the Sindh government to ensure that all the legal requirements were fulfilled and utilise the best resources to file the appeal in the top court. It had also directed the provincial leadership to consult the Attorney General in this regard.
The federal government had reiterated the resolve to bring the terrorists to justice.