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ISLAMABAD: The apex court, on Thursday, deferred Daniel Pearl, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) South Asia bureau chief's murder case as Sindh Prosecutor Farooq H Naek sought short adjournment due to ailment.

Farooq Naek's Advocate on Record (AOR) submitted application on his behalf that he was unwell on account of severe back pain.

His MRI was done on 14-10-20 at Islamabad Diagnostic Centre and his MRI report was examined by Dr Syed Junaid Ismail, Associate Surgeon at Poly Clinic Hospital, Islamabad, on 16-10-20.

The doctor advised him to avoid travel and take rest and to consult Dr Imtiaz Hashmi, senior Orthopedic Surgeon at Karachi.

The AOR informed that due to ailment, Farooq H Naek was not able to attend court until 26th October, saying it was neither intentional nor deliberate nor willful.

A three-member judge bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, heard the Sindh government and Daniel Pearl's parents' appeals against the SHC verdict to acquit Daniel Pearl's alleged murderers.

The Court in the last hearing, accepting appeals, had extended the detention of Umer Saeed Sheikh, who had allegedly beheaded, and others.

However, the bench said they could not further order to keep the accused in detention.

Daniel Pearl was killed in Karachi in January, 2002.

His wife Mariane Pearl on 04.02.2002 had filed an FIR at Artillery Maidan Police Station Karachi.

Trial Court on 15-07-2002 convicted Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh, and awarded him death sentence, while Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib, and Fahad Nasim were given life imprisonment under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The convicts challenged the sentence in the Sindh High Court.

The State also filed Special Anti-Terrorism appeal for enhancement of sentence of life imprisonment awarded to Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib, and Fahad Nasim in the SHC.

A division of the High Court, Karachi, heard the appeals together and delivered the judgment on 02-04-2020, and acquitted the accused.

It also held that the subject case does not fall within the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and Umer Sheikh is entitled to both remissions in accordance with law, and the benefit of Section 382-B, Criminal Procedure Code, 1898.

Umer Sheikh, who had already spent 18 years in prison on death row after being sentenced by an anti-terrorism court, was expected to be released after the high court verdict as his seven-year sentence was to be counted as time already served.

However, the Sindh government under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) detained Umer Sheikh and four others, whose convictions had been overturned, till September 30.

The Sindh prosecution on April 22, 20 filed an appeal under Article 185(3) of Constitution in the Supreme Court, while Daniel's parents - Ruth Pearl and Judea Pearl- on May 2, filed the constitutional petition.

It is their stance that the SHC wrongly held that the convictions and sentences awarded by the trial court to the respondents No 2 to 4, and Ahmed Omer Shaikh could not be sustained on the basis of the standard of proof, meaning that the prosecution has not been able to prove the case against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt, and the benefit of doubt must go to the accused persons.

They have submitted that these facts are admitted, firstly, the deceased person was abducted. Second, the deceased person was abducted/kidnapped for ransom as ransom emails were received and recovered.

However, what is denied by the Respondents No.2 to 4, and Ahmed Umer Shaikh, is their role in sending the ransom emails but not the fact that the ransom emails were actually received. Third, the deceased person was brutally murdered by way of beheading.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020