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ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government on Friday filed a review petition against the apex court’s order to release all the accused allegedly involved in kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl.

The criminal review petitions were filed under Article 188 of the Constitution read with Rule XXVI of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980 against the apex court’s short order dated 28/1/2021.

The office of the Attorney General for Pakistan in a statement said “The federal government is in contact and fully engaged with the Sindh government in respect to the order passed by the Supreme Court in Daniel’s murder case.”

It further said: “The federal government is extending full support to the provincial government in this matter and legal steps are being taken in this regard.”

Since the detailed judgment has not been delivered; therefore, the review petitions contain the grounds the provincial government had taken in appeals against the Sindh High Court (SHC) judgment.

The Supreme Court has been asked to grant one week to file the relevant documents related to the case.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Yahya Afridi on 28th January with 2-1 majority decision, dismissed the appeals of Sindh government and Daniel Pearl’s parents in the murder of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Bureau Chief for South Asia.

“Criminal Appeals of Sindh government and Criminal Petitions of Daniel Pearl’s parents are dismissed, the Sindh High Court judgment dated 02.04.2020 maintained to the extent of acquittal of all the four respondents from their charges. Criminal Appeal of 2020 filed by Ahmed Omer Shaikh against his conviction under section 362, PPC, is allowed and he is acquitted of the charge by extending the benefit of doubt to him. Ahmed Omer Shaikh, Fahad Nasim Ahmed, Syed Salman Saqib and Shaikh Muhammad Adil shall be released from the jail forthwith if not required to be detained in connection with any other case,” said the order of Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Tariq Masood.

However, Justice Yahya Afridi disagreed with the other two members of the bench and partly allowed the appeals of the Sindh government and Daniel’s parents in the terms that Ahmed Omer Shaikh and Fahad Nasim are convicted under sections 365-A and 120-B, PPC and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 each and sentenced to imprisonment for life on each count.

“All the sentences passed against both of the convicts shall run concurrently.”

However, he wrote that the benefit under section 382-B, CrPC shall be extended to them.

He dismissed the Sindh and the parents’ appeals to the extent of Syed Salman Saqib and Shaikh Muhammad Adil, and maintained their acquittal on all the charges, they shall be released from the jail forthwith if not required to be detained in connection with any other case.

He dismissed an appeal filed by Ahmed Omer Shaikh.

The prosecution submitted that Marianne Pearl, wife of the deceased journalist in her complaint to the police wrote; “I first heard of my husband’s kidnapping from e-mail message received on the 27th of January 2002. The e-mail message included photograph that showed my husband held in detention in inhuman condition.”

Marianne complaint further said: “The writer(s) of the e-mail wrote that they had abducted my husband in retaliation for the imprisonment of Pakistani men by the US Government in Cuba and other complaints. The unknown accused persons had demanded the provision of lawyers to Pakistani detained in the US, the release of the Pakistani jailed in Cuba to Pakistan, the return of former Talban Ambassador Mulla Zaeef to Pakistan and the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan or the repayment of money allocated for those F-16 Jets as well as 15 percent interest.”

The Sindh government submitted that the offences created a sense of fear and terror in the minds of the public at large, both nationally and internationally as such all the accused/respondent were guilty of the charges leveled against them on all counts.

The High Court erred in failing to appreciate that the object and design of the acts of respondent/accused was to cause fear and terror among the public at large.

The doctrine of “last Seen evidence” is fully attracted and applicable in the instant case in view of the factum that the charge of abduction has admittedly been proven while the video cassette produced without challenge has proven the murder of deceased Daniel Pearl.

PW-12 John Moligan appeared and produced before the Court original video cassette along with a copy thereof which was played in presence of accused/respondent, their counsel and the prosecution during the course of trial but the High Court has not considered this very important piece of evidence while deciding the case, submitted the Sindh government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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