Pakistan re-arrests men acquitted in Daniel Pearl murder, will challenge acquittal

Pakistan re-arrests men acquitted in Daniel Pearl murder, will challenge acquittal
After a court acquitted four men over the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, Pakistani authorities ordered their detention and seek to challenge the acquittal.
2 min read
04 April, 2020
Four men were acquitted over the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl on Thursday [Getty]
Pakistani authorities on Friday re-arrested four men after their acquittal over the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, Reuters reported, as the government announced it would challenge the acquittal next week.

On Thursday, the Sindh High Court overturned the death sentence for British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had been convicted in the 2002 killing of Pearl. The court also overturned the convictions of three other men in the case, who had been sentenced to life in prison over abetting Omar.

Pearl, 38, was the 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 after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

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

According to Reuters, the Sindh provincial government’s Home Department issued the order to arrest and detain the four before they were released from prison.

"The government of Sindh has sufficient reason that Ahmed Omar Sheikh and Fahad Nasim Ahmed, Syed Salman Saqib, Sheikh Muhammad Adil be arrested and detained for a period of three months from the date of arrest (April 2, 2020)," a top department official said in the order, which was seen by Reuters.

The cited concern was that the released men may act "against the interest of the country".

According to Reuters, the law to keep detaining the men is often used to keep high-profile suspects, particularly militants, in custody after being unable to prosecute them in court.

An appeal will be filed next week in Pakistan's Supreme Court by the Sindh provincial government, Pakistan’s interior ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The US, which has previously denounced Thursday's acquittal as "an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere", praised Pakistani authorities' prolonged detention of the four men.

"We welcome Pakistan’s decision to appeal the verdict," acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said.

In January 2011, a report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University following an investigation into the journalist's death claimed that the wrong men were convicted for Pearl's murder.

The investigation, led by Pearl's friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and a Georgetown professor, stated the reporter was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, not Omar Sheikh.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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