Pakistan court orders release of man accused in Pearl death

www.startribune.com
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fairly difficult
Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered on Thursday the release of a Pakistani-British man convicted and later acquitted in the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
ISLAMABAD —

The court also dismissed an appeal of Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh's acquittal filed by Pearl's family and the Pakistani government.

A minister in the Sindh province where Sheikh is being held said the government had exhausted all options to keep him locked up — an indication Sheikh could be free within days. The "Supreme Court is the court of last resort," Murtaza Wahab, Sindh's law minister, told The Associated Press.

"The Pearl family is in complete shock by the majority decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to acquit and release Ahmed Omer Sheikh and the other accused persons who kidnapped and killed Daniel Pearl," the Pearl family said in a statement released by their lawyer, Faisal Siddiqi.

The brutality of Pearl's killing shocked many in 2002, years before the Islamic State group began releasing videos of their militants beheading journalists. An autopsy report told the gruesome details of the Wall Street Journal reporter's killing and dismemberment.

Sheikh was convicted of helping lure Pearl to a meeting in the port city of Karachi, during which he was kidnapped. Pearl had been investigating the link between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, dubbed the "shoe bomber" after his attempt to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes.

Pearl's body was discovered in a shallow grave soon after a video of his beheading was delivered to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.

The Pentagon in 2007 released a transcript in which Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, said he had killed Pearl.

"I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl," the transcript quoted Mohammed as saying. Mohammad first disclosed his role while he was held in CIA custody and subjected to waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other forms of torture. He remains in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay and has never been charged with the journalist's death.

Sheikh…
KATHY GANNON, Associated Press
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