–Judge says Sindh govt must ‘legally prove’ that Daniel Pearl was kidnapped
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday rejected a petition filed by the Sindh government which sought to annul the verdict in the Daniel Pearl case in which the Sindh High Court (SHC) had acquitted all four suspects accused in kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter.
In its verdict announced in April, the high court had turned the death sentence awarded to Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in the case, into a seven-year jail term in addition to acquitting the other three suspects, earlier handed life sentences. The bench also declared that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against the suspects.
While the judges found Sheikh guilty of being involved in Pearl’s abduction-for-ransom and handed him a seven-year term, they noticed that he has been in prison for the last 18 years. “His seven-year sentence will be counted from the time served,” the bench announced, implying that he has already served his sentence.
During the hearing on Monday, Justice Manzoor Malik observed that the petition cites irrelevant provisions of the law to support its assertion.
“First of all, the kidnapping [of Daniel Pearl] must be legally proved,” Justice Malik said. “Evidence must suggest that the abductee was Daniel Pearl,” he further said, adding: “The Sindh government claims that a conspiracy was hatched in Rawalpindi. What conspiracy took place in Rawalpindi must also be proved with evidence.”
“The court should be provided a complete record of the case,” the judge remarked. “I want to look at all the records so that I can understand all the points.”
He added that the court has to check whether the confession and identification parade was in accordance with the law. “The facts cannot be ignored,” Justice Manzoor said.
The apex court ordered the Sindh government’s counsel to submit the detailed record before the court for the case to proceed. Following this, the counsel sought time to submit the record of the trial court.
The hearing was then adjourned indefinitely.
The Sindh government had challenged the high court’s verdict in the Supreme Court on grounds that the “last seen evidence”, “impersonation” and “identification parade” was proved against the accused persons and maintained concurrently by the trial court.
Moreover, the appeal pointed out that the video showing the committing of the murder of the WSJ reporter had been verified by a public official [an expert from state-owned broadcaster PTV] and was never challenged.