AGENCIES, Islamabad: Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, the terrorist convicted of murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl, had his death sentence commuted to a prison term of seven years by a Pakistani court on Thursday.
The Sindh High Court gave its verdict following appeals by Sheikh and three other men convicted of kidnapping and murdering Pearl in Karachi in 2002
The high court overturned the verdict of an anti-terrorism court. Three other men convicted of Pearl’s murder were acquitted and freed by the Sindh high court.
Sheikh, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, was among those freed by India along with Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar in exchange for the lives of passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814.
Sheikh’s death sentence was commuted to seven years in jail Reports in the Pakistani media said Sheikh’s seven-year prison term will be counted as part of the 18 years he has already spent in jail.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha announced its verdict on appeals filed by the four men 18 years ago after hearing arguments by prosecution and defence lawyers and examining the records of the case.
The high court also dismissed an appeal by the prosecution seeking enhancement of life sentence given to the three other men – Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil.
Pearl was the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal andwas kidnapped on January 23, 2002 in Karachi and later beheaded by his captors.
A report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University has claimed that the wrong men were convicted for Pearl’s murder. The report claims Pearl was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and is being held in Guantanamo Bay.