KARACHI:The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to law officers on a plea challenging the provincial government’s second notification for extending the confinement of four men acquitted in Daniel Pearl murder case.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Shamsuddin Abbasi, issued notices to the Sindh advocate general and prosecutor general, seeking their response on August 20.
The petitioner’s counsel maintained that despite the acquittal of Omar Saeed, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Shaikh Mohammad, the Sindh government continued to detain them under Section 11-EEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
Their detention was extended for three more months through a notification after the completion of their confinement period on July 1, he added.
The counsel maintained that the accused have been confined for 20 years and it was illegal to keep them confined despite their acquittal. He pleaded to the court to nullify the notification for the extension of confinement period and issue directions for the release of the accused.
Last month, the Sindh home department had extended the detention order of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and three other suspects for another three months, fearing that they might engage in a terrorist activity after their release.
On April 2 this year, the SHC had commuted the death sentence of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh – the man convicted of kidnapping and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 – to a seven-year sentence.
The SHC had also acquitted three others who had been awarded life imprisonment in the case. The order came almost two decades after they were found guilty and subsequently jailed.
The Sindh government then challenged the SHC judgment in the Supreme Court,
However, the apex court rejected the provincial government’s plea.
The Sindh government re-arrested the four accused for three months just hours after they were acquitted of Pearl’s murder in April, on the basis of threats to law and order. They were detained under Section 3 (1) of West Pakistan of Maintenance Public Order Ordinance 1960. A second notification for extending their confinement for three more months was issued last month.
Pearl, 38, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was investigating militants in Karachi after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped in January 2002. Later, he was beheaded.
British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was handed down death penalty by an anti-terrorism court in Hyderabad on July 15, 2002, for masterminding the murder.
Fahad Naseem, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Muhammad Adil were sentenced to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs500,000 each by the anti-terrorism court.