ISLAMABAD – The lawyer for a Pakistani man convicted and later acquitted in the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl said Wednesday he would petition the Supreme Court for his client’s release.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in Perle’s murder, remains in jail in the southern port city of Karachi despite his acquittal.
Pearl’s family and the Pakistani government appealed the acquittal to the Supreme Court, which resumed its hearing this week. A decision is expected before the end of the month.
Sheikh’s lawyer, Mehmood A. Sheikh, has tried to release his client, who has been on death row for 18 years, since the acquittal. The attorney told The Associated Press that he is demanding freedom for Sheikh under a last order issued last month by the Sindh High Court.
The lawyer, who is not related to Sheikh, said he also wanted to free three other co-accused suspects. Their lesser allegations of aid have also been overturned.
Last month, the US warned that Sheikh could not escape justice. US act. Attorney General Jeffery Rosen praised Pakistan for invoking the Sindh Court order, but said the United States stands ready to bring Omar Sheikh to justice if “those efforts are unsuccessful”.
Pearl family lawyer Faisal Siddiqi said he would oppose the petition, adding he was confident that Sheikh would not be released.
“He will not be released,” said Siddiqi. “Omar Sheikh’s attorney’s applications were denied twice.” Sheikh was convicted of luring Pearl to a meeting in Karachi where he was kidnapped.
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Pearl investigated the link between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, known as a “shoe bomber” after attempting to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes.
A gruesome video of Perle’s beheading was sent to the US consulate. The Wall Street Journal reporter, 38, from Encino, California, was kidnapped on January 23, 2002.
His body was later found in a shallow grave in a neighborhood south of Karachi. Sheikh was sentenced to death for her role in the conspiracy and the others to life in prison.
The acquittal had stunned the US government, Perle’s family and journalist interest groups.