KARACHI: The provincial Home Department on Wednesday extended the detention period of the accused persons in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl by three months.
Persons accused of murdering the American journalist include Omar Saeed, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Shaikh Mohammad.
The department said that the persons have been detained under the Anti-Terrorism Act’s Section 11 Triple E. It also adds that the government fears that if the accused are released, they may create a new terrorist network.
The provincial government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan over the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) ruling in the Daniel Pearl case, whereby three of the four accused were acquitted and a death sentence of the prime accused was commuted.
The appeal against the SHC’s April 2 ruling was filed by the provincial prosecutor-general.
The provincial government has requested Pakistan’s top court to declare the SHC’s ruling null and void. It has also petitioned for the death penalty of the prime accused, Omer Saeed Sheikh, to be restored. Sheikh’s sentence had been converted into a seven-year imprisonment earlier.
The Sindh government has further requested the apex court to restore life sentences of Sheikh’s three accomplices as well.
The three appeals by the provincial government include all four accused as a party to the petition.
On April 2, the SHC had acquitted three of the accused of kidnapping and murdering Pearl back in 2002. It had also converted the prime accused Sheikh’s death penalty into a seven-year imprisonment sentence.
A two-judge bench of the high court — headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha — had reserved the judgement in March after hearing the arguments of the appellants and the state counsel.
“The court has commuted Omar’s death sentence to a seven year sentence,” a defence lawyer had told Reuters by telephone. “The murder charges were not proven, so he has given seven years for the kidnapping.”
“Omar has already served 18 years, so his release orders will be issued sometime today. He will be out in a few days,” he had said.
Later, however, Sindh had invoked the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) law to prevent all suspects in the Daniel Pearl murder case from walking free, ordering they be kept in detention for another 90 days.