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SHC declares detention of accused in Daniel Pearl case illegal

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Prime accused Umer Shaikh in police custody.
  • Court directs officials to place accused on ECL
  • SHC says accused have been in jail for 18 years without committing any crime
  • SHC orders accused to appear before court when they are summoned

KARACHI: The detention of the accused exonerated in the Daniel Pearl case was declared illegal by the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday.

The SHC declared the notification regarding the detention of Umer Shaikh and four others illegal and ordered their immediate release. The court also directed officials to place the accused on the Exit Control List.

The court said the accused have been in jail for the last 18 years without committing any crime. It added that their imprisonment was illegal and ordered them to appear before the court when they are summoned.

During the hearing, the assistant attorney-general told the bench that the detention of the accused was ordered by the provincial government. He added that the accused were detained on September 28 under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

Apart from Umar Sheikh, the other accused in the case are Fahad Naseem, Syed Suleman Saqib and Sheikh Muhammad Adil.

Earlier this year, the SHC had acquitted three of the accused in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl. It had also converted prime accused Umer Saeed Sheikh’s death penalty into a seven-year prison sentence.

A two-judge bench of the high court — headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha — had reserved the judgment in March after hearing the arguments of the appellants and the state counsel.

Later, however, Sindh had invoked the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) law to prevent all of the Daniel Pearl murder suspects from walking free, ordering they be kept in detention for another 90 days.

Following, the SHC verdict, the Sindh government filed an appeal in the Supreme Court over the ruling in which three of the four accused were acquitted and a death sentence of the prime accused was commuted.

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