Islamabad: The decision of Pakistan’s Sindh High Court (SHC) to strike down the preventive detention of the suspected kidnappers and killers of American journalist Daniel Pearl has raised eyebrows in the US.
The US State Department has expressed serious concerns over the SHC order to end the nine-month-long preventive detention of British national Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three others, who were kept in custody after being acquitted in the 2002 kidnap and brutal murder of the journalist.
“We are deeply concerned by the reports of the December 24 ruling of the SHC to release multiple terrorists responsible for the murder of Daniel Pearl,” the Department said in a tweet.
“We have been assured that the accused have not been released at this time,” it added.
The Department reiterated that it was following developments to the case closely, adding that it stands with the Pearl’s family through the difficult process.
As per details of the SHC order, none of the detainees are going to be kept under the preventive detention order by the federal or provincial governments of by any law enforcement agencies without permission of the court.
However, the court has ordered to put the names of the detainees in the Exit Control List (ECL) to prevent them from leaving the country until the time the state appeals against their acquittal has been decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
On April 2, the SHC had struck down the death sentence and life imprisonment of Ahmed Omer Sheikh, Fahad Naseem, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Mohammad Adil, which had been given by the trial court the Daniel Pearl murder case.
The detainees had filed a petition in the court, challenging their detention under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO), initially for 90 days under the Anti Terrorism Law.
Their detention was further extended to three months on September 27 by the Home Department.
The petitioner contested that the detention was and unlawful decision by the home department as the extension was done without the referral of the case to the federal review board.
Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin refrained to argue in the case on behalf of the Sindh government, maintaining that the bench should not be hearing the case and should refer it to the Chief Justice for constitution or another bench.
The decision of the court is likely to be challenged by the federal or the provincial government in the coming days as it has attracted serious criticism on the country’s judicial process.
By Hamza Ameer
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