ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has prepared the final draft of appeal against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) order for acquittal and release of prisoners in the Daniel Pearl murder case.
The SHC on April 2 had commuted the death sentence awarded to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh – convicted for kidnapping and murdering US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 – to seven years and acquitted three others who were serving life terms – almost two decades after they were found guilty and jailed.
A two-member SHC bench, comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Sangi, had announced the verdict on the appeals filed by the four men against their 2002 convictions by an anti-terrorism court (ATC).
The Sindh government had announced it would file an appeal against the SHC order immediately after the verdict was announced. It also decided to detain the accused for three months under Section 3 (1) of West Pakistan of Maintenance Public Order Ordinance 1960.
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A senior official in the Sindh government told The Express Tribune that draft of the criminal petition is prepared and might be filed any day this week. A senior provincial government official revealed that there were 60% chances that the appeal would be filed today (Wednesday).
The provincial government hired services of private counsel Farooq H Naek and another Lahore-based lawyer to plead the appeal in the apex court.
Earlier, the Sindh prosecutor general also recommended the provincial government to hire a private counsel.
The federal law department also assisted the provincial prosecution department in drafting the criminal appeal.
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It has also been decided that the criminal appeal against the SHC ruling will be filed at the principal seat of the Supreme Court in Islamabad. Under the law, the appeal can be filed within 30 days but the apex court has relaxed the limitation regarding filing of cases in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is learnt that Pearl’s family has also sought a legal opinion from Pakistani lawyers. The lawyers have advised them to file an appeal. A senior lawyer believed that there were glaring flaws in the SHC judgment, which would be suspended by the apex court on the first day of hearing.