Parents of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl have approached the Pakistan Supreme Court against the Sindh High Courts (SHC) verdict acquitting and releasing the prime accused in their sons murder case 18 years ago, a media report said.
Two criminal petitions have been filed by renowned lawyer Faisal Siddiqi on behalf of the parents, Ruth and Judie Pearl, against the acquittal and release of the four accused, including the main accused, British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, The Express Tribune reported.
“The decision by the Sindh High Court to free the men in the murder of Daniel Pearl is a complete miscarriage of justice. It is a defining case for the Pakistani state and its judicial system, involving freedom of the press, the sanctity of every life, freedom from terror and the manifestation of a welcoming and safe Pakistan to the world. Rarely has any court case embodied and risked such fundamental values,” the lawyer said.
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.
It further argues that the SHC erred in holding that no evidence has been brought on record by the prosecution to link any of the accused persons to the murder of Pearl.
The petition said that the SHC further erred in failing to take into consideration that Ahmad Omer Sheikh has a history of involvement in international terrorism.
Siddiqi further added in the petition submitted that the provincial high court’s judgment, has itself held that the present case was a “very sensitive case where a foreign journalist was murdered in the most brutal circumstances that would have spread terror amongst other foreigners in Pakistan and the journalist community as a whole”, The Express Tribune reported.
“Therefore, in light of its own finding and the strong incriminating evidence establishing the case for kidnapping for ransom of the deceased person, Sindh High Court has erred in giving the aforementioned findings,” said the petition submitted in the apex court.
The SHC had last month acquitted the four men acquitted in Pearl’s 2002 kidnapping and beheading.
Pearl was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about religious extremism.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate nearly a month later.