Supreme Court defers release of Daniel Pearl case accused till tomorrow

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ISLAMABAD : The Supreme Court on Monday deferred release of Daniel Pearl murder case accused till tomorrow (Tuesday) while hearing review petition of the Sindh government.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Umar Atta Bandial issued order for keeping the status-quo until Tuesday.The bench restrained the government of Sindh from release or issuing a new detention order of the accused.

Attorney General Khalid Javed appeared before the apex court bench and argued that the Sindh High Court didn’t issue a notice in Daniel Pearl case to the Attorney General. “Issuing a notice to the Attorney General was compulsory under the Order 127A,” the AG said. “Only this reason is sufficient to declare the high court decision void,” he argued.

He stated that if the decision won’t be suspended it will bring along serious consequences. He pleaded to the court to suspend the high court’s decision. “I want to present my arguments in detail in this case.”

“We are not going to suspend the decision. A citizen has been in detention, we won’t give a decision without perusal of the order sheet,” Justice Bandial observed.

“Defence Counsel Mehmood A. Shaikh has been ill,” a junior counsel informed the bench. He sought putting off the case hearing for one week.

“The case hearing could not be deferred for a week,” Justice Bandial stated.

The court adjourned further hearing of the case till tomorrow.

On Friday, the Sindh government through its prosecutor general had moved a petition in the apex court, pleading with it to review its decision of acquitting the accused.

Headed by Justice Mushir Alam, a three-judge bench that also comprised Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Yahya Afridi, ordered that Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, Fahad Naseem, Syed Salman and Sheikh Muhammad Adil be released forthwith, if not required to be detained in connection with any other case. A member of the bench had opposed the decision.

Four convicts of the murder case, British national Ahmed Omer Saeed Shaikh, co-accused Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil had moved the Sindh High Court (SHC) in 2002 challenging their convictions handed down by the Hyderabad Anti-Terrorism Court after finding them guilty of abducting and killing American Journalist Daniel Pearl.

The high court overturned the verdict of the ATC and acquitted convicts on April 02, 2020. Subsequently, the Sindh government filed an appeal in the SC challenging their acquittal.

The 38-year-old South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pearl, was researching for a story on religious extremists in January 2002 in Karachi, when he was abducted and slain.