Sindh High Court orders to release Daniel Pearl’s accused from preventive detention

Accused in Daniel Pearl murder ordered to be FREE by Sindh High Court
Daniel Pearl was working for The Wall Street Journal for an assignment in Karachi

The Sindh High Court on Thursday ordered the release of four men being held over the 2002 abduction and killing of the American journalist Daniel Pearl, arguing that they had been acquitted months ago, and that their continued detention was illegal. However, the court ordered that their names be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).

In April this year, the Sindh High Court downgraded Mr Sheikh’s conviction to the lesser crime of kidnapping, and acquitted three other men connected to the case.Sheikh was acquitted earlier this year of murdering Pearl, but has been held while Pearl’s family appeals the acquittal.

The bench observed that the provincial authorities remained unable to produce justified reasons for the continuous detention of the petitioners – Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil – who had moved the court through their counsel against their continuous detention since their release order in April 2020. The government however, issued two consecutive Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) detention orders of 90 days starting from April this year which were issued and expired.

“The detention order is struck down,” said Faisal Siddiqi, the family’s lawyer. He said Sheikh would be freed until the appeal is completed, but would return to prison if the family is successful in overturning the acquittal.

In today’s hearing, a two-judge bench, presided over by Justice K. K. Agha, directed security agencies not to keep Sheikh and other accused under “any sort of detention” and declared all notifications of the Sindh government related to their detention “null and void”.

Daniel Pearl’s father tweeted, “We refuse to believe that Pakistan government and Pakistani people will let such a travesty of justice tarnish its name and justice will prevail,” Mr Judea said, referring to the latest court order. We also have full confidence in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to provide justice for our beloved son and reinforce the paramount importance of the freedom of the press,” he added.

The US State Department said it is “deeply concerned” at the reports of a Pakistani court ordering the release of terrorists involved in the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl. The terrorists are set to be released on Saturday.

Pakistani authorities and the Pearl family have separately appealed against the April overturning of Sheikh’s conviction to the Supreme Court, according to Pearl family attorney Faisal Siddiqui. The next hearing in that separate case is due in early January.

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