Jewish leaders have welcomed a recent decision by the Supreme Court in Pakistan to keep one of Daniel Pearl's killers in jail despite his acquittal by a lower court in April. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh has been on death row since 2002, sentenced to death for masterminding the beheading of Pearl that same year. Pearl, a Jewish American, was the South Asia Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal. He was based in Mumbai, India, where he was investigating links between Pakistani militants and "Shoe Bomber" Richard C. Reid when he was kidnapped and later beheaded by terrorists. In April, a Pakistani court commuted Sheikh's death sentence and acquitted three others co-accused for Pearl's murder. "No evidence has been brought on record by the prosecution to link any of the appellants to the murder of Pearl and as such all the appellants are acquitted of murder," said a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court, in a ruling seen by Reuters.However, the Sindh provincial government's Home Department on the same day issued an order to arrest and detain the four before they were released from prison, for a period of three months. Now British-born Sheikh will remain in jail for a further three months, following a ruling by Pakistan's Supreme Court on an appeal by Pearl's family. The decision was made at a brief hearing by the court, during which government prosecutor Fiaz Shah told judges he needed more time for paperwork. The judges have adjourned the hearing until October 21. Faisal Siddiqi, the lawyer representing Pearl's family, has said that he hopes the court will rule to keep Sheikh on death row before the expiration of the new 90-day detention. Sheikh’s defense lawyer, Mahmood Shaikh, told The Associated Press he had expected his client to walk free at the hearing, saying: “My client cannot be kept in jail for an indefinite period.” He added that he has already challenged the three-month detention, with a lower court to take up the appeal on October 19. Pearl's family said that they have received assurances from the US State Department that they are closely following the acquittal and appeals process. In a statement, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff and vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said that they "welcome the announcement by prosecutors at the Supreme Court of Pakistan that Ahmed Omar Sheikh... will stay in jail while his case continues rather than go free."This killer should be behind bars for the rest of his days; anything less would be a painful insult to the Pearl family. They have suffered enough in the years since this atrocity occurred," the statement said."Those responsible for his death were motivated by their hatred of who he was and must be held accountable," they said, adding: "We call on the US government to do all it can to ensure that justice is served in this case."Retweeting the statement on Twitter, Daroff added: "The last words of Daniel Pearl, an American citizen, were 'My father's Jewish, my mother's Jewish, I'm Jewish.' Those responsible for his death were motivated by their hatred of who he was and must be held accountable."
Reuters contributed to this report.
The last words of Daniel Pearl, an American citizen, were 'My father's Jewish, my mother's Jewish, I'm Jewish.' Those responsible for his death were motivated by their hatred of who he was and must be held accountable. https://t.co/iQmryFXWuq— William Daroff (@Daroff) October 7, 2020
Reuters contributed to this report.