ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Thursday adjourned hearing in the murder case of Daniel Pearl, Bureau Chief of Wall Street Journal in Pakistan, after Sindh Prosecutor Farooq H Naek sought short adjournment due to his ailment.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam conducted hearing of the appeals of Sindh government and the parents of Daniel Pearl against the SHC verdict to acquit the alleged murders of Daniel Pearl.

During the hearing, Farooq Naek’s Advocate on Record (AOR) submitted an application on his behalf that he is unwell on account of severe back pain. His MRI was done on 14-10-20 at Islamabad Diagnostic Center and his MRI report was examined by Dr Syed Junaid Ismail, Associate Surgeon at Poly Clinic Hospital, Islamabad, on 16-10-20. The doctor advised him to avoid travel and take rest and to consult Dr Imtiaz Hashmi, senior Orthopaedic Surgeon at Karachi.

The AOR informed that due to the ailment Farooq H Naek was not able to attend court till October 26 saying that it is neither intentional nor deliberate nor wilful.

On the last hearing, the court accepting the appeals had extended the detention of Umer Saeed Sheikh, who had allegedly beheaded the journalist. However, the bench said that they cannot further order to keep the accused in detention.

Daniel Pearl was killed in Karachi in January, 2002. His wife Mariane Pearl on 04.02.2002 had filed an FIR at Artillery Maidan Police Station Karachi. Trial Court on 15-07-2002 convicted Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh and awarded him death sentence, while Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim were given life imprisonment under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. 

The convicts challenged the sentence in the Sindh High Court. The State also filed Special Anti Terrorism appeal for enhancement of sentence of life imprisonment awarded to Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim in the SHC. A Division of the High Court, Karachi, heard the appeals together and delivered the judgment on 02-04-2020 acquitted the accused. It also held that the subject case does not fall within the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and Umer Sheikh is entitled to both remissions in accordance with law and the benefit of Section 382-B, Criminal Procedure Code, 1898. 

Umer Sheikh, who had already spent 18 years in prison on death row after being sentenced by an anti-terrorism court, was expected to be released after the high court verdict as his seven-year sentence was to be counted as time already served. However, the Sindh government under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) detained Umer Sheikh and four others, whose convictions had been overturned, till September 30.

The Sindh prosecution on April 22, 20 filed an appeal under Article 185(3) of Constitution in the Supreme Court, while the Daniel’s parents – Ruth Pearl and Judea Pearl–on May 2 filed the constitutional petition.