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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court hearing Daniel Pearl’s murder case said on Thursday that under the Constitution of Pakistan foreigners residing in the country also have protection of law.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam heard the appeals of Sindh government and Daniel Pearl’s parents against the SHC’s judgment acquitting the alleged murderers of Daniel Pearl.

Justice Mushir Alam, reacting to the statement of prosecutor general (PG) Sindh about protection of foreigners, said: “Foreigners living in Pakistan have protection under Articles 4 and 9 of the Constitution.”

PG Fiaz Shah, rebutting the arguments of Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh and the lawyer of other accused said: “Fundamental rights are not available to foreigner,” when the bench pointed out to him that Daniel’s parents’ lawyer has told the Court, Ronald Joseph, FBI agent, rightly said the accused were arrested earlier. During the proceeding, Justice Tariq Masood remarked that Ronald Joseph, an FBI agent, has destroyed the prosecution’s case, adding his statement should be read as a whole and not in bits and pieces. He observed that the documents on the record say the laptop, along with other material, was recovered on 13-02-2002, while the prosecution’s stance is that Ronald, who examined the computer, left the country on 15-02-2002. He said Ronald in his own statement maintained that he spent six to seven days to examine the computer.

Fiaz Shah failed to satisfactorily respond to the bench’s queries, and requested the court to ignore some technical aspects as this is a highly complicated case. The bench directed him to file a written submission. Earlier, Mehmood A Sheikh, counsel for Omer Sheikh, completed the arguments. He contended that the accused were in the custody of police before the registration of an FIR against them.

They were physically and mentally tortured before producing them before the magistrate. About Omer Sheikh’s connection with the terrorists, the counsel said except India where he went on a visit visa was arrested on charges of kidnapping the foreigners, adding no other countries including Europe levelled such charges against his client.

He said Omer was a bright student and was recognised among 15 top most intelligent students in England. Justice Yahya Afridi observed Omer Sheikh was not even charged in India, and there was nothing illegal against him. The counsel said do not know why the Indian government involved Omer in plane hijacking case.

Regarding the letter, allegedly written by Omer Sheikh, the defence lawyer informed that Omer’s father along with his chamber fellow would go to Karachi for meeting with the accused in the jail.

Justice Afridi told him to file a written reply after getting instruction for his client about the letter and links with the terrorists.

The court also directed the prosecutor general to submit a written reply.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday (January 27th).

A division bench of the SHC, Karachi, on 2nd April 2020 acquitted the accused, Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh, Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib, and Fahad Nasim.

It also held that the subject case does not fall within the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and Omer Sheikh is entitled to both remissions in accordance with law and the benefit of Section 382-B, Criminal Procedure Code, 1898. Trial court on 15-07-2002 had 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 Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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