Pakistan top court to hear appeal from Daniel Pearl’s family

Faisal Siddiqi, right, a lawyer for the family of Daniel Pearl, arrives at the Supreme Court for an appeal hearing in the Pearl case, in Islamabad on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 28 September 2020

Pakistan top court to hear appeal from Daniel Pearl’s family

  • Family’s appeal was adjourned earlier this month amid cries of outrage from Pearl’s family and the US government

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court was scheduled to hear an appeal Monday by the family of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl challenging the acquittal of a British-born Pakistani in the gruesome 2002 beheading of the Wall Street Journal reporter.
The family’s appeal was adjourned earlier this month amid cries of outrage from Pearl’s family and the US government to a lower court’s acquittal of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had been on death row since his conviction in 2002. Sheikh has remained in custody since his acquittal.
A handwritten letter by Sheikh acknowledged his involvement in Pearl’s killing in the southern port city of Karachi, Faisal Siddiqi, a lawyer for Pearl’s family, said in a telephone interview late Sunday.
Pearl, 38, was kidnapped and killed while investigating the link between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, dubbed the “shoe bomber” after trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes. Pearl disappeared on Jan. 23, 2002, and a videotape received by US diplomats in February 2002 confirmed his death.
The letter by Sheikh was entered into evidence in late 2019, Siddiqi said. However, it was not among the evidence heard by the lower court that in April acquitted Sheikh on a number of charges, including the most serious of the kidnapping for ransom that lead to Pearl’s slaying.
In the letter dated July 19, 2019, Sheikh said his involvement in Pearl’s death was “a relatively minor one.” Siddiqi said Sheikh implicates himself in Pearl’s murder by his admission.
The acquittal prompted outrage from the US and journalist organizations.
In the original trial in 2002, emails between Sheikh and Pearl were entered into evidence in which Sheikh gained Pearl’s confidence sharing their experiences as both waited for the birth of their first child. Pearl’s wife Marianne Pearl gave birth to a son, Adam, in May 2002.
Evidence entered into court accused Sheikh of luring Pearl to his death, giving the American journalist a false sense of security as he promised to introduce him to a cleric with militant links.
Pakistani police sought to locate Pearl for weeks until the video received by US diplomats showed his beheading.
An investigation by students of Georgetown University in Washington implicated Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States in Pearl’s death. Mohammed has been in US custody on Guantanamo Bay since his arrest in Pakistan in March 2003.


NATO says Greece and Turkey cancel military exercises

Updated 23 October 2020

NATO says Greece and Turkey cancel military exercises

  • “This is a very welcome step,” Stoltenberg said after a videoconference of NATO defense ministers
  • Turkey has deployed a gas exploration vessel under military escort into Greek waters

BRUSSELS: Turkey and Greece have agreed to cancel rival military exercises that were to have been held next week on their respective national days, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.
The neighbors, while NATO members, are at loggerheads over energy drilling and maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean and the alliance has set up a hotline to head off accidental clashes.
“This is a very welcome step,” Stoltenberg said after a videoconference of NATO defense ministers, including Greece’s Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Turkey’s Hulusi Akar.
“These are steps in the right direction, and it helps to reduce the risks for instance and accidents.”
Greece had been expected to conduct exercises on Wednesday October 28, its Oxi Day holiday, and Turkey on Thursday, celebrated there as Republic Day.
Turkey has deployed the Oruc Reis, a gas exploration vessel under military escort into Greek waters off the island of Kastellorizo, and Greek vessels are nearby.
Addressing a news conference after two days of talks on a variety of topics, Stoltenberg confirmed he had raised the situation with the Greek and Turkish ministers.
“I will say that we had a good and constructive talks and allies expressed a strong support for the NATO de-confliction mechanism,” Stoltenberg said.
“I welcome now the fact that we have been able to see some concrete steps in that direction with the cancelation of the two exercises.”
French Defense Minister Florence Parly also hailed the decisions to cancel the military exercises, stressing the need to “respect international law and restore stability in the region.”
Stoltenberg also welcomed Germany’s diplomatic mediation in the underlying dispute.
On Thursday, he had warned that — while NATO could help keep the rival militaries apart — it would be down to Ankara and Athens to open a dialogue to resolve their long-standing differences.