Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in the Daniel Pearl case, has been handed over to the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) after he was moved to Lahore from Karachi amid security concerns.
The prime accused will be kept at a CTD cell in Chung.
In December 2020, the Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered the immediate release of the accused, leading to “deep concern” expressed by the United States. The Sindh government filed a plea in the Supreme Court against the high court ruling. The SC, however, upheld the SHC verdict and asked the provincial authorities to move Sheikh to a government rest house.
“[…] whilst the detenue is entitled to be freed form custody under the impugned judgement, we order him to be placed in a residential environment like a government rest house providing facilities for a normal life albeit without access to the outside world through telephone, internet etc. Proper security arrangements shall be ensured for keeping the detenue safe in the rest house,” the order had read.
Daniel Pearl, an American journalist heading the Wall Street Journal’s Pakistan bureau in 2002, was beheaded and mutilated after being allegedly kidnapped by the accused, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
Along with Sheikh, Fahad Nasim Ahmed, Syed Salman Saqib, and Sheikh Muhammad Adil were sentenced to death or life imprisonment on charges of kidnapping Pearl and conspiring in his murder. However, the Sindh High Court acquitted all four in April 2020. This acquittal was appealed by Pearl’s parents and the Sindh government in the Supreme Court.
In December 2020, the SHC ordered the immediate release of the accused—citing lack of legal grounds to keep them detained—leading to “deep concern” expressed by the United States. Meanwhile, a contempt of court case was heard in the Sindh High Court against the authorities withholding the release.
The Supreme Court also upheld the order of the Sindh High Court, dismissing the appeals and calling for the immediate release of the accused. The federal government and the Sindh government had filed review petitions against the SC’s judgement.