Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh arrives for a hearing in Sindh High Court in Karachi. File photo
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The Sindh government will not release Omar Sheikh and three others accused in the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl in view of a Supreme Court order despite a judgment of the Sindh High Court (SHC), which asked it to release them.
An official said that the provincial government believes that the Supreme Court’s order with regard to the Daniel Pearl case accused is still in the field.
A three-judge bench led by Justice Mushir Alam on September 28 noted that till the next date of hearing, Omar Sheikh, Fahad Nasim Ahmed, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil shall not be released. It had issued the order while hearing appeals against the SHC’s April 2 order in the Pearl case. The official said the apex court order has not been specifically recalled.
The SHC had clarified that the accused should not be released if there is a Supreme Court restraining order regarding their detention, the official said.
Dr Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl, who was killed by terrorists in 2002, speaks in Miami Beach. File/AP
He said the Sindh government will also challenge the SHC December 24 order in the apex court. A SHC division bench on April 2 commuted the death sentence of Omar Sheikh to seven years and acquitted three others who were serving life terms for abducting and killing Wall Street Journal’s former South Asia bureau chief Denial Pearl in 2002.
The provincial government had swiftly challenged the April 2 order in the Supreme Court. The Sindh government had also immediately detained the four men under Section 3 (1) of West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance 1960. It had claimed that there were sufficient reasons to believe that the liberty of the men was likely to pose grave threat to public safety and cause breach of peace and tranquility. The same SHC division bench, however, annulled the detention order on December 24 and ordered the Sindh government to immediately release the four men.
Mahmood Sheikh, lawyer of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, comes out after the high court in Karachi on Thursday. File/AFP
This order elicited immediate response from the US which expressed its "deep concerns” over the SHC order. "We are deeply concerned by the reports of the December 24 ruling of SHC to release multiple terrorists responsible for the murder of Daniel Pearl. We have been assured that the accused have not been released at this time,” the State Department said.It said the US understood that this case is ongoing in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, adding that it will "follow it closely”. "We continue to stand with the Pearl family through this extremely difficult process. We continue to honour Daniel Pearl’s legacy as a courageous journalist,” it added.
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