Daniel Pearl Homicide Accused Claims He Is “Scapegoat”: Pak Lawyer

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NDTV News

Daniel Pearl, 38, was kidnapped and beheaded in Karachi in 2002.

Islamabad:

A lawyer representing the parents of US journalist Daniel Pearl has written a handwritten letter to the Pakistani Supreme Court in which the key charged in the case alleged that he was a “scapegoat” arrested under “US pressure” and the true mastermind is a Karachi-based terrorist.

Pearl, the 38-year-old head of the Wall Street Journal’s South Asian bureau, was kidnapped and beheaded while investigating a story in Pakistan in 2002 about the links between the country’s powerful espionage agency, ISI, and Al Qaeda.

British-born al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and his three aides have been convicted and convicted of the abduction and murder of Pearl. In April they were exonerated by the Sindh High Court and an appeal against their acquittal is pending before the Supreme Court.

According to an Express Tribune report on Sunday, Faisal Siddiqui, attorney for Perle’s parents, presented the handwritten letter to the Supreme Court in which Sheikh alleged the real culprit was a terrorist, Attaur Rehman, from Karachi.

Siddiqui notified the Supreme Court that the letter was filed with the Sindh High Court on July 19, 2019.

In the letter, Sheikh claimed he was “a scapegoat” arrested under “US pressure” and that the real culprit was Rehman.

The letter was drawn up during an appeals hearing against the acquittal of the four defendants in the Pearl murder case. A special three-judge bench, led by Justice Mushir Alam, heard appeals by the Sindh government and Pearl’s parents, Ruth and Judie Pearl, against the Supreme Court ruling.

Siddiqui claimed that the bank had to take this into account. However, the Supreme Court will rule on the next hearing on January 4th, the report said.

Sheikh went on to say in his letter that he had been in prison since 2002 under the death sentence, indicted and convicted of kidnapping and murder of Pearl. However, it was publicly known that he neither kidnapped nor murdered Pearl, and this was recognized in his book by the US government and Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf.

Sheikh said his role in the case is relatively minor, which does not justify the death sentence, adding that he has already served in prison – most of them in illegal solitary confinement.

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According to the letter, the US pressure on the Pakistani government at that time (2002) was so great that Sheikh was used as a “scapegoat” to ease that pressure.

“Hence, evidence was produced against me to convict me of the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl,” Sheikh claimed.

“Later, when the person (Rehman aka Naeem Bukhari) who actually abducted Daniel was arrested, he was not charged on the case because it exposed the lies and affidavit that the Musharraf government convicted me,” he added .

The letter alleged that despite Rehman’s 1 million rupees in reward for his role in the case, he was not produced in court but was held in secret Rangers’ custody for five years and then in Sukkur Prison for two years and only charged with a trumped-up case of possession of drugs.

After Rehman’s release, he is said to have organized some of the most devastating attacks Karachi has ever seen, including the demolition of the Rangers headquarters in Nazimabad, where he was previously secretly held, Sheikh claimed.

The letter also alleged that if Ata were executed, the evidence that would prove the truth about Perle’s case would be lost forever. Sheikh therefore asked the court to issue a residence order to ensure that Rehman was not executed until after the Pearl case was testified.

“The court is also asked to have this appeal heard immediately on a daily basis and to bring both myself and Rehman to court so that I can be released from the trumped-up charges against me and a decision can be made.” Opportunity to clarify my real role in this matter so that my sentence can be appropriately reduced to one that meets the requirements of justice, “the letter reads.

Two days after the Sindh High Court overturned Sheikh’s conviction in April, the Sindh government invoked law enforcement to keep the four convicts in jail.

Despite being exonerated by the court, the Sindh government has refused to release Sheikh on the grounds that he could pose a threat to public order.