SC orders release of prime accused in Daniel Pearl murder
The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered authorities to release Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the principal accused in the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl, dismissing an appeal by the Sindh government against the Sindh High Court (SHC) order for his immediate release.
A three-member bench of the SC headed by Justice Mushir Alam announced the verdict with a 2-1 majority.
“The court has come out to say that there is no offence that he has committed in this case,” Mahmood Sheikh, who represented Sheikh, told AFP.
In April 2020, the SHC had overturned the death sentence of Omer Sheikh and sentenced him to seven years in prison and acquitted three others accused — Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil and Salman Saqib — who were earlier sentenced to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court (ATC).
After the SHC verdict, the Sindh government and Daniel Pearl’s family had filed petitions in the apex court.
During today’s hearing, the Sindh government provided sensitive information on the matter to the court in a sealed envelop.
The Advocate General Sindh stated that Omar Sheikh has links with banned outfits adding that there is evidence but can not be proved in a court of law.
On this, Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the information shared with the court was never presented at any forum.
“How can we review the material which was never brought on record? If the authorities had information about the accused why did they not try him for anti-sate activities?”
The bench added that the government never declared Omar Sheikh an enemy agent. “No one can deny the war against terror but when this battle will end no one knows. May be it will continue for generations to come.”
After hearing the arguments, the court reserved the verdict briefly and announced it shortly after.