A court in Pakistan on Thursday commuted the death sentence of the main accused in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and acquitted three co-accused in the case, BBC reported.
At least four people were convicted in connection with Pearl’s murder, including British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death in 2002 for being the mastermind. The court commuted his death sentence to a prison term of seven years, lawyer Khawaja Naveed said.
The lawyer said his client’s sentence has been reduced to seven years for the kidnapping as the murder charges have not been proven. “Omar has already served 18 years, so his release orders will be issued sometime today,” Naveed added. “He will be out in a few days.”
A two-member bench of the High Court of Sindh province issued the order, overturning the verdict of an anti-terrorism court.
At the time of his kidnapping in January 2002, Pearl was researching Islamist militant activity in Karachi after the September 2001 attacks in the United States. Video emerged a few weeks later of his murder.
However, a report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University in January 2011 had claimed the wrong men were convicted for Pearl’s murder. The investigation, led by Pearl’s friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and a Georgetown University professor, said he was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is being held in Guantanamo Bay, accused of being the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.