Accused killer of US journalist Daniel Pearl to stay in prison as case appealed
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Father Judea Pearl has warned against 'a mockery of justice'

Accused killer of US journalist Daniel Pearl to stay in prison as case appealed

After court overturns murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, government says he and 3 others will remain jailed for now

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the alleged mastermind behind Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnap-slaying, appears at the court in Karachi, Pakistan, on March 29, 2002. (AP/Zia Mazhar)
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the alleged mastermind behind Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnap-slaying, appears at the court in Karachi, Pakistan, on March 29, 2002. (AP/Zia Mazhar)

A Pakistani provincial government Friday ordered a British Pakistani man whose conviction in the kidnapping and killing of a US journalist was overturned to remain in custody for three months.

The Superintendent of Karachi’s Central Prison, Hasan Sehtoo, said he received an order from the Sindh provincial government saying Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh’s release would threaten public safety. The government ordered him detained as it appeals to the Pakistani Supreme Court to have his murder conviction reinstated.

Saeed was found guilty of murder and kidnapping in the 2002 death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and sentenced to death. On Thursday, the Sindh High Court overturned his murder conviction and sentenced him to seven years for the lesser charge of kidnapping.

He had been expected to go free as the seven-year sentence was to be counted as time served.

The Sindh High Court also acquitted three others accused in the case: Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil, and Salman Saqib, who were earlier sentenced to life in prison. The three were also ordered held by officials as they pursue an appeal.

Pearl, who was Jewish, disappeared on January 23, 2002 in Karachi while researching links between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, who became known as the “shoe bomber” after he was arrested on a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives in his shoes. Prosecutors said Saeed lured Pearl into a trap by promising to arrange an interview with an Islamic cleric who police believed was not involved in the conspiracy.

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is seen in captivity in Pakistan (photo credit: AP)

On Thursday, before the provincial government’s move was announced, the slain journalist’s father, Judea Pearl, called the court decision “a mockery of justice” and “reprehensible” in a tweet, saying “anyone with a minimal sense of right and wrong” would expect officials to appeal it.

 

Pearl, a prominent Israeli-American computer scientist, added: “The civilized world should focus now on the jail, to make sure the four criminals are not let out by some “oversight” before the Supreme Court hears the appeal.

In January 2011, a report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University following an investigation into his death claimed that Sheikh had not been the one to murder Pearl.

The investigation, led by Pearl’s friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and a Georgetown University professor, claimed the reporter was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Mohammed — better known as KSM — was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and is being held in Guantanamo Bay.

A US psychologist who interviewed KSM said the prisoner had told him that he had beheaded Pearl.

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