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Thursday Jan 28 2021

Daniel Pearl case: Supreme Court orders release of prime accused Omar Sheikh

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. File photo
  • The order was announced by a three-member bench with a 2-1 majority.
  • The Sindh government had approached the SC against the order of SHC overturning Omar Sheikh's conviction in Daniel Pearl's murder.
  • There is evidence that he has links with banned outfits but can not be proved in a court of law, Sindh's top law official told SC.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected appeals filed by the Sindh government and ordered the release of the prime accused in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

The provincial government had approached the top court against an order of the Sindh High Court (SHC) overturning the conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in the 2002 murder of the American journalist in Karachi.

A three-member bench of the SC headed by Justice Mushir Alam announced the verdict with a 2-1 majority.

“The court has come out to say that there is no offence that he has committed in this case,” Mahmood Sheikh, who represented Sheikh, told AFP.

Read more: Omar Sheikh claims he did not kill or kidnap Daniel Pearl in newly surfaced document

In April 2020, the SHC had overturned the death sentence of Omer Sheikh and sentenced him to seven years in prison and acquitted three others accused — Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil and Salman Saqib — who were earlier sentenced to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court (ATC).

After the SHC verdict, the Sindh government and Daniel Pearl's family had filed petitions in the apex court.

During today’s hearing, the Sindh government provided sensitive information on the matter to the court in a sealed envelop.

The Advocate General Sindh stated that Omar Sheikh has links with banned outfits adding that there is evidence but can not be proved in a court of law.

On this, the court remarked that the information shared was never presented at any forum.

Read more: A timeline of the Daniel Pearl case

“How can we review the material which was never brought on record? If the authorities had information about the accused why did they not try him for anti-sate activities?”

The bench added that the government never declared Omar Sheikh an enemy agent. “No one can deny the war against terror but when this battle will end no one knows. May be it will continue for generations to come.”

After hearing the arguments, the court reserved the verdict briefly and announced it shortly after.