Pakistan lawyers seek review of Daniel Pearl murder acquittals

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistani prosecutors filed a last-ditch attempt on Friday to overturn the acquittal of a British-born militant convicted of masterminding the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, as the new United States (US) secretary of state directly pressed on the case.

Pakistan’s top court on Thursday dismissed an appeal against a lower court’s decision to clear Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three others over the killing, after nearly two decades in jail.

The decision extended a legal tug of war between the Sindh provincial government – who kept the group behind bars using emergency powers – and the courts.

Fiaz Shah, prosecutor general for the Sindh government, told AFP that it had lodged a review of the verdict at the Supreme Court in the capital Islamabad.

“The petition was filed to seek a review and request the court to recall the order of acquittal,” Shah said.

A senior government official with knowledge of ongoing legal procedures concerning the case told AFP that authorities were examining a plethora of available legal options to keep Sheikh incarcerated.

“Filing a review petition was one among those options,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

The ruling immediately brought the case to the top of the agenda with US President Joe Biden’s new administration.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his first phone call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi since taking office, directly voiced concern.

Blinken raised “how to ensure accountability for convicted terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and others responsible” for Pearl’s murder, the US State Department said.