Sindh to hire private counsel to plead Daniel Pearl case appeal

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Sindh to hire private counsel to plead Daniel Pearl case appeal

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has decided to engage a private counsel to plead appeal against the Sindh High Court (SHC) order for acquittal and releases of prisoners in Daniel Pearl murder case.

The SHC on April 2 commuted death sentence of 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 in the case – almost two decades after they were found guilty and jailed.

A two-member SHC bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice ZulfiqarSangi had announced the verdict on appeals filed by the four men against their 2002 convictions by an anti-terrorism court (ATC).

Sindh government had announced to file a review petition against the SHC order immediately after unveiling of the verdict and also decided to detain the accused for three months under section 3 (1) of West Pakistan of Maintenance Public Order Ordinance 1960.

A senior official in Sindh government revealed to The Express Tribune on Saturday that the provincial government will engage a private counsel to file a criminal appeal. However name of the counsel is yet to decide as different names are under consideration, he added.

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He said different federal departments, including Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) office, are also in touch with provincial authorities. These departments have also advised the Sindh government to engage a private counsel to argue the case in the apex court, he added.

Both the federal and provincial governments agree that a comprehensive appeal should be filed against SHC judgment. However, it is learnt that an appeal may not be filed till next week. Under the Supreme Court Rules, an appeal may be filed within 30 days.

The Federal Ministry for Interior on Friday said the Sindh government would file an appeal against the SHC ruling in the Supreme Court next week. A statement said the federal government was “well aware of the facts of the judgment” issued by the SHC in on April 2.

“Federal Government is concerned about the decision however, as per constitutional scheme of things prosecution in criminal matters is a provincial subject, therefore similar concern has been shared with the Government of Sindh,” the statement read.

It added that the Sindh government has decided to file an appeal next week against the judgment before the top court “in order to ensure that the ends of justice are met”.

“Government of Pakistan has asked Government of Sindh to dedicate its best resources in the pursuance of appeal before the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan. Government of Sindh has been advised to consult Attorney General for Pakistan in the matter as well,” the ministry said.