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Appeal opens against reversal of Briton’s conviction in Daniel Pearl killing

Pakistani court to hear case against Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, initially sentenced to death for Jewish reporter’s 2002 kidnapping and beheading

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

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An appeal against the controversial acquittal of a British-born man convicted of murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl opened at a Pakistani court on Tuesday.

A Karachi court sparked outrage earlier this year when it overturned the 2002 murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and acquitted three other men connected to the case.

Pearl’s parents and prosecutors lodged an appeal at Pakistan’s Supreme Court in May, putting the release of the four men on hold.

“The case has finally opened, it will be decided whether they should be convicted or acquitted. The case is heading to a final verdict,” Faisal Siddiqui, the lawyer representing Pearl’s parents, told AFP.

Murdered journalist Daniel Pearl. (Photo credit: the Daniel Pearl Foundation)
Daniel Pearl was a journalist for The Wall Street Journal. (The Daniel Pearl Foundation)

The appeal, which has been repeatedly postponed in recent months, will hear opening arguments in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday.

Sheikh had been on death row for Pearl’s murder but was acquitted in April by the Sindh High Court which instead sentenced him to seven years for kidnapping — paving the way for him to walk free after already serving 18 years.

Three co-defendants who were serving life sentences in connection to the case were acquitted.

Pearl, who was Jewish, was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants.

A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate nearly a month later.

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

Prosecutors said Sheikh lured Pearl into a trap by promising to arrange an interview with an Islamic cleric who police believed was not involved in the conspiracy.

Pearl’s killing stirred international condemnation of Pakistan’s military government just as it was remaking its image after years of backing the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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