Pakistan court overturns conviction in murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl

US journalist Daniel Pearl

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court on Tuesday overturned the death sentence of the man convicted of killing US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

The Sindh High Court, the top provincial court, commuted the capital punishment of the convict to seven years for kidnapping.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the British-born national was earlier convicted for murdering the journalist in southern city of Karachi in January 2002 while the latter was working on a story on religious extremists in Pakistan.

The court also acquitted and released three other men who were given life sentences over the killing.

A two-member bench of the Sindh High Court in Karachi, headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, found that there had been sufficient evidence to convict Sheikh of kidnapping, but not of murder, said Khwaja Naveed, one of the lawyers of Sheikh. “The court ruled that the charge of abduction was proven,” he said.

Naveed said Sheikh could go free unless the government chooses to challenge the court decision.

Sheikh has already spent 18 years in prison in southern Hyderabad on death row. It was expected that the seven-year sentence will be counted as time served, added Naveed.

Soon after Pearl’s killing, Pakistan’s government, then led by President Pervez Musharraf, moved quickly to arrest Sheikh and the other men, amid a global outcry and pressure from the United States. — Agencies