Petition filed in Pakistan top court
The parents of murdered US journalist Daniel Pearl filed on Saturday an appeal to reverse the April 2 decision of the Sindh High Court that overturned convictions of the four men in their son’s 2002 kidnapping and murder case.
On April 2, the Sindh High Court overturned the death sentence for British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had been convicted in the case in 2002. His sentence was commuted to seven years and a fine of Rs2,000,000 was imposed on him.
Three suspects, Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim, were acquitted. They had previously been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Lawyer Faisal Siddiqui has filed the petition on behalf of Ruth and Judea Pearl in the Supreme Court.
A video of the couple talking about the petition was also posted on Twitter.
The petition states that the SHC has failed to note that this was a brutal murder as a result of international terrorism and the principle of the standard of proof, as well as the benefit of doubt in cases of international terrorism, has to be applied keeping in the context that the nature and type of evidence available in such terrorism cases cannot be equated with cases involving non-terrorism crimes.
“Therefore, it is obvious and apparent that the impugned judgment is clearly erroneous because it is fundamentally based on a misinterpretation of law and misreading of the entire record of Special Case No.26 of 2002,” the petition read and added that the impugned judgment is liable to be set aside.
Earlier, the Sindh government too had challenged the SHC verdict. It had requested last Tuesday to fix its appeal against the ruling this week for hearing.
Sindh Prosecutor General Dr Fiaz Shah had filed a petition in the apex court.
The petition said that the suspects had confessed to the crime before a presiding judge of an anti-terrorism court in Karachi and the “acquittal and modification of sentence through the impugned judgment is not sustainable and is liable to be set aside”.
The court caused a “serious miscarriage of justice”, it says, adding that the court has “erred in dealing with the legal question of burden of proof as the prosecution had safely discharged the burden to prove the guilt of the accused men”. It adds, “the Honourable High Court failed to appreciate that there was “overwhelming incriminating evidence on record against the respondents/accused connecting them to the offences with which they were charged”.
The petitioner has asked the top court to “grant leave to appeal” against the Sindh High Court’s judgement.
The petition says that Mariane Pearl, a US national who was living in Karachi’s Zamzama, wrote a letter to Artillery Maidan police on February 2, 2002, and said that her husband disappeared on January 23, 2002. She said she received an email from the abductors saying that he has been abducted “in retaliation for the imprisonment of Pakistani men by the US Government in Cuba and other complaints”.
After this, a case was filed against the suspects and 23 witnesses were produced in the case by the prosecution. They were all convicted on July 15, 2002.