The Sindh government in Pakistan has challenged its provincial high court's order in the Supreme Court, wherein British-born top al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three others were acquitted in US journalist Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and murder case.
Pearl, the 38-year-old South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, was abducted and beheaded while he was in Pakistan investigating a story in 2002 on the alleged links between the country's powerful spy agency ISI and al-Qaeda - a shocking incident that had captured the world's attention at the very start of the still ongoing war on terror.
Prosecutor General Sindh Dr Fiaz Shah filed a criminal petition for leave to appeal under Article 185(3) of the Constitution against the judgment passed by the Sindh High Court (SHC) on April 2, The News International reported. The court had overturned the life imprisonment of Omar Saeed along with the conviction of three other men for the killing of Pearl. A day after SHC overturned their convictions, the four men acquitted were re-arrested.
The Pakistan Interior Ministry had said in a statement that the men's release was halted after they were re-arrested through a measure, allowing the government to hold suspects for three months. The ministry said it "reiterates its commitment to follow the due process under the laws of the country to bring terrorists to the task."
Alice Wells, a senior State Department official had said, "The overturning of the convictions for Daniel Pearl's murder is an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere." "Those responsible for Daniel's heinous kidnapping and murder must face the full measure of justice," she had added.
The verdict by Pak's SC came more than a month after Paris-based Financial Action Task Force warned Pakistan that stern action will be taken against it if the country fails to check the flow of money to terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) among others.
The FATF, which supervises the effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing, last year placed Pakistan on its "Grey List" of countries for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups like the LeT and the JeM. If not removed from the list by April end, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries such as Iran that face severe economic sanctions.
(With agency inputs)