Overturning of the murder conviction in the case of Daniel Pearl by the Sindh High Court started a debate at international level.
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an NGO based in the US that promotes freedom of press and protects the rights of journalists. It expressed great disappointment and requested Pakistani courts to review as justice is concerned:
The punishment of the convict Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was reduced to 7 years from a death sentence. The accused has already spent 18 years in a jail.
A day after overturning conviction by Sindh court an order from Home Ministry stopped Omer’s release for three more months.
Who Was Daniel Pearl and What Was His Case All About?
Daniel Pearl was a reporter in the Wall Street Journal, who went missing in Pakistan in 2002. Reportedly, he was investigating the connections between terrorists in Karachi and the American Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid, who attempted to set off a hidden bomb (inside his shoe) on an aeroplane.
According to the records, the reporter was abducted and murdered by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men. He remained missing for several weeks before getting beheaded.
Who Is Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh
Ahmad Omer Saeed convicted murderer is a British born Pakistani who is accused of many activities related to terrorism. He was also arrested in Delhi in 1994 for kidnapping four tourists; 1 American and 3 British citizens).
In 1999, terrorists hijacked an indian airline to demand the release of Sheikh Omar alongside Masood Azar and two others. All of them were directly or indirectly associates of a terrorist organisation, Al-Qaeda.
Why Did Court Overturned Ahmed Omar Sheikh’s Conviction
Reportedly, a group of US journalists including Pearl’s former colleagues gave a statement in 2011. They stated that Sheikh might be involved in the kidnapping but he did not commit the murder. The murder’s accusations were directed towards Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who is held up in Guantanamo Bay for masterminding 9/11 attacks. So, the court decided to apply the punishment for kidnapping only (Penal Codes; 359, 360, & 361) i.e. 7 years.
Reaction on Overturning of Amhed Omar Saeed’s Murder Conviction
The Sindh Court’s decision was saddening for many as justice was in question.
Critics think that Daniel Pearl’s murderers deserved extreme penishment for their crime was heinous.
Some also questioned the vivid intentions of Pakistan authorities to make such a decision.
United States National Security Council has also condemned the court’s decision
Pakistan Authorities Order The Re-Arrest Of Convicted Murderers
The Sindh Government ordered the re-arrest of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other acquitted men over the concerns that freenig them may go against the country’s interest. Reuters reported that the law which was used to prevent the release of these men has always been used to detain high-profile terrorists.
According to media reports, the re-arrest decision was made after the US’s top South Asian diplomat also slammed the overturn as a mockery of justice.
With the orders of re-arrest, it is expected that the public will not raise any issue over this concern.