ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday ordered that British-born Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, originally arrested and charged with American journalist Daniel Pearl’s 2002 abduction and murder, be moved from a death cell to a state rest house, Pakistani media reported.
The court gave the order while hearing an appeal filed by the provincial government of Sindh on Friday calling for a review of the top court’s decision last week to free Sheikh and three others convicted of beheading Pearl, a 38-year-old Wall Street Journal journalist. Sheikh was convicted of helping lure Pearl to a meeting in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi in 2002, during which he was kidnapped.
Last April, a lower court acquitted all four men in a shocking turn in the 18-year-old case.
The acquittal was appealed separately in the Supreme Court by Pearl’s family and the Sindh government. Both appeals were rejected last Thursday by a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, that also ordered Sheikh be released. The decision was two-to-one.
“The SC ordered that all detainees in the case should be brought to a common barrack of jail for two days,” Pakistan’s Business Recorder newspaper said about the Supreme Court’s Tuesday ruling. “After it, they should be kept at a government rest house.”
“Sheikh’s family may also stay with him from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm,” the court said, adding he would not be allowed mobile or Internet facility.
On Monday, the court had halted the release of Sheikh and others for 24 hours after they were expected to be freed on Tuesday.
To a question about whether it was possible that Sheikh could be released, attorney general Khalid Javed Khan told Arab News last week: “I doubt it.”
“We all know that Omar Saeed Sheikh was the mastermind of Danny’s kidnapping,” Pearl’s sister Tamara Pearl told Arab News last week. “His lies lured Danny into an interview in Karachi on January 23, 2002 and a month later Danny was dead. Three months later his body was found in an unmarked grave. This is the truth, no matter what any court says.”
“The defendants in this court case and the justices who acquitted them know that this is the truth, but the lies continue,” Pearl’s sister said. “Neither verdict would have brought Danny back but lies are corrosive. We trust that somehow truth will prevail.”