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Acquittal of Daniel Pearl’s murderers: SC refuses to overturn

American journalist Daniel Pearl was murdered in Karachi in 2002. 18 years after the conviction of the men believed to be involved, the Sindh High Court acquitted them. The Supreme Court has decided to affirm the decision of the SHC and not overturn the convictions, despite Pearl’s parents' pleas to grant him justice.

In an unexpected development, which goes against the grain of recent decisions, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday refused to suspend the acquittal of four men in the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The Acquittal of Daniel Pearl’s murderers by the Sindh High Court was upheld by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

A three-judge panel turned down the plea while hearing the appeals filed by the government and Pearl’s parents challenging the acquittal of the previously convicted men by the high court, local broadcaster Geo News reported.

What happened to Daniel Pearl? 

Pearl, a former South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped in January 2002 and killed after a month in Karachi.

His dismembered body was found on the northern outskirts of Karachi four months after his disappearance. A video of his beheading was also sent to the US Consulate. 

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil were found guilty of abducting and beheading Pearl in Pakistan.

Acquittal of Daniel Pearl’s murderers by SHC

Ruth and Judea Pearl, the parents of Daniel, wrote a joint article in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, appealing for justice for their son. The Pearl family is Jewish; one of the reasons given for Daniel being targeted by Islamic extremists was his religion. They wrote: 

“Today, we are standing up for justice — not only for our son, but also for all of our dear friends in Pakistan and around the world. The men behind Daniel’s murder represent an extremism that we must challenge, and the world is watching how the courts in Pakistan keep its citizens safe from terrorism and creates a future of peace”.

They also filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, against the acquittal of their sons killers.

Two criminal petitions have been filed by renowned lawyer Faisal Siddiqi on behalf of Pearl’s parents – Ruth Pearl and Judie Pearl -against the acquittal and release of the four accused.

Read more: Acquittal of Daniel Pearl killers: Supreme Court takes up appeal

“The decision by the Sindh High Court to free the men in the murder of Daniel Pearl is a complete miscarriage of justice. It is a defining case for the Pakistani state and its judicial system, involving freedom of the press, the sanctity of every life, freedom from terror and the manifestation of a welcoming and safe Pakistan to the world. Rarely has any court case embodied and risked such fundamental values,” said the lawyer.

Supreme Court refuses to overturn acquittal of Daniel Pearl’s murderers 

In June 2002, an anti-terrorist court sentenced Sheikh to death and the other three to life.

But last month, nearly 18 years after the convictions, a two-judge panel of the Sindh High Court in Karachi acquitted all defendants, declaring the prosecution had failed to prove the case.

The court ordered their release from custody but the government, citing “public safety” concerns, barred the move after strong criticism from Washington.

The judges asked the prosecution to first clarify to the court if the slain reporter was kidnapped for ransom, and later murdered.

The top court ordered the prosecutors to present more documents to support their case. The court adjourned the hearing until June 15.

In 2011, an investigative report by Georgetown University in the US claimed Sheikh and the other three men had been wrongly convicted for the murder.

The investigation led by Pearl’s colleague, Asra Nomani, who accompanied him during his Pakistan visit, claimed the one responsible for his abduction and beheading was Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks.

He was arrested by Pakistan and handed to the US in 2003 and is currently awaiting trial at the American base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk