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Pakistan successful in loyalty test – Despite High Court’s verdict prisoners could not be freed

KARACHI, 3 April 2020, TON: US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells said, “We welcome Pakistan’s decision to appeal the verdict,” after the Home Department of Pakistan’s Sindh Province issued an order against Sindh High Court’s decision that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh will remain at least for another 90 days on the grounds of “public safety.” Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was acquitted from the charges of murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

The ruling came on 3 April 2020, a day after the High Court of Sindh Province overturned conviction of death sentence on the grounds of Daniel Pearl ‘s murder due to lack of evidence. Criticizing the High Court’s decision, Alice Wells on 2 April said, "The overturning of the convictions for Daniel Pearl's murder is an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere." 

The order said, “The government of Sindh has sufficient reason that Ahmed Omar Sheikh and Fahad Nasim Ahmed, Syed Salman Saqib, Sheikh Muhammad Adil be arrested and detained for a period of three months from the date of arrest (April 2, 2020).” It is important to mention here that the latest High Court decision awarded the accused 7 years imprisonment, however, all the accused, especially Ahmed Omar Sheikh is in prison since 20022 and has already spent 18 years in prison.

Defense lawyer Khawja Naveed said that decision of the Court in converting death sentence for murder to seven years in prison for kidnapping has been viewed by international media-freedom watchdogs as a "denial of justice."

The provincial Prosecutor-General, Faiz Shah said that he intended to appeal the ruling, however, under Article 185 of Constitution of Pakistan, Sindh Government has no right to file an appeal exercising Appellate Jurisdiction of Supreme Court unless leave to appeal is filed as the decision of Sindh High Court has neither reversed an order of acquittal of  accused persons and sentenced him to death or to transportation for life or imprisonment for life nor the revision has enhanced a sentence.

It is important to recall, in January 2011, a report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University following an investigation into his death claimed that the wrong men were convicted for Pearl's murder.

 

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