–Ahmed Omar Sheikh and three others have been detained in prison for three months
–Federal govt asks Sindh govt to consult AGP for filing appeal against SHC decision
KARACHI: Authorities ordered on Friday four men, including a British militant, convicted of the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, to be detained for three months despite a lower court’s ruling to overturn their convictions.
On Thursday, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had acquitted the four, including Briton Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding Pearl’s murder. The other three were sentenced to life.
Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter Pearl, 38, was investigating militants in the city of Karachi, the capital of Sindh, after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped in January 2002. He was beheaded weeks later.
The Sindh 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 official of the department said in the order.
The official cited concern that the released men may act “against the interest of the country”.
The law to keep them in detention is one that the government has often used to keep high-profile suspects, particularly militants, in custody after being unable to successfully prosecute them in court.
The US denounced Thursday’s court acquittal of the four, with the top US diplomat for South Asia writing on Twitter that it was “an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere”.
The re-arrest of the four gives the government time to put together a legal appeal against their acquittal.
A senior government law officer told Reuters that the state would appeal against the SHC’s Thursday ruling, which the US welcomed.
“We welcome Pakistan’s decision to appeal the verdict,” acting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said.
Meanwhile, in an official statement, the Federal Ministry of Interior said that the federal government has asked the Sindh government of Sindh to dedicate its best resources in the pursuance of appeal before Supreme Court of Pakistan.
“Government of Sindh has been advised to consult Attorney General for Pakistan in the matter as well. In the meantime, all the accused in the said case have been arrested and detained under Section 3(1) of the West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 for a period of 3 months pending filing of the appeal in the apex court”.
It added that the Pakistani government is committed to following the due process under the laws of the country to bring terrorists to task.