The Daniel Pearl Murder Case has seen a new twist today. The Sindh High Court in Pakistan announced its verdict on appeals by the four men convicted in US journalist Daniel Pearl abduction and murder case.
The death sentence of the key accused in Daniel Pearl Murder Case – Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh was commuted to seven years in prison while the other three convicts, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil— who were earlier handed life sentences — were set released by the court.
Since Sheikh has been in the jail for the past 18 years, his seven-year sentence will be counted from the time served. After hearing arguments and examining the case, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha announced the verdict on the appeals filed by the convicts 18 years ago.
The SHC further dismissed an appeal of the state seeking enhancement of life term of three co-accused.
In 2002, an anti-terrorism court had sentenced Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh to death and life term to the other three for the kidnapping and the murder of the 38-year Daniel Pearl of The Wall Street Journal who was researching a story on religious fanatics in Karachi.
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While arguing the case the lawyers for the appellants, Rai Bashir and Khawaja Naveed Ahmed had submitted that the prosecution had terribly failed to prove its case against their clients beyond any reasonable doubt and prosecution witnesses were mostly policemen, whose testimonies could not be relied upon. They had further contended that Naseem and Adil Sheikh’s confessions before a judicial magistrate were defective and not voluntary.
They had argued that the recovery of the laptop from Naseem was shown to have been made on Feb 11, 2002, while computer expert Ronald Joseph had deposed that he was given the computer for verification on Feb 4 and he examined the laptop for six days.
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Deputy Prosecutor General Saleem Akhtar had supported the trial court’s verdict and submitted that the prosecution had proved its case against the appellants beyond a shadow of doubt and had requested the court to dismiss the appeals.