Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday accepted an appeal by the family of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl seeking to keep a British-born Pakistani man on death row over the beheading of the Wall Street Journal reporter.
The court delayed until next week hearing the appeal over the lower-court acquittal of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had been on death row since his conviction in 2002 over Pearl’s killing.
Sheikh had been convicted of helping lure Pearl to a meeting in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, in which he was kidnapped. Pearl had been investigating the link between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, dubbed the “Shoe Bomber” after trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes.
The lower court’s April ruling acquitted Sheikh and three other accomplices, who had been sentenced to life in jail for their role in the plot. The lower court found Sheikh guilty on a single lesser charge of abduction, which he is also appealing.
The acquittal stunned the U.S. government and Pearl’s family. “We felt like (it was) a thunderstorm that is about to reopen our pains of 2002,” Pearl’s father Judea Pearl told in an email Monday. “Pakistan’s judicial system caved to either inside or outside pressure to send a message of impunity to extremist elements worldwide.”