The Supreme Court, in the detailed verdict of January 28 decision to release Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, said the prosecution was unable to provide substantial evidence proving the accused killed and kidnapped American journalist Daniel Pearl.
The apex court, on January 28, had rejected the Sindh government’s appeal and ordered the release of Sheikh, the prime accused in the 2002 murder of the American journalist in Karachi.
The provincial government had approached the top court after the Sindh High Court had overturned Sheikh’s conviction.
A three-member SC bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam, including Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, released the detailed verdict today, given with a 2-1 majority.
The court, in its ruling, said the prosecution had presented a policeman as a taxi driver, and turned him into a state witness. “Even if a convict in handcuffs admits to a crime, it has no legal value,” the judgment said.
The verdict said the false witness was not shown Pearl’s photo for identification.
Moreover, the judgment observed that the deceased journalist’s wife kept emails containing threats away from the police.It said the journalist’s life was in danger, however, his wife refrained from filing a complaint for 12 days and remained quiet.
“The FIR does not mention threatening emails, nor was Pearl’s wife questioned,” the judgment noted.
Furthermore, the top court ruled that the accused cannot be identified in the murder video and the original video was deliberately hidden from the police.
Had the original video clip been found, a forensic analysis would have been conducted as the court cannot rely on video evidence without it, the SC ruled.
The court remarked the prosecution had failed to prove the allegation that Sheikh had killed Pearl and the journalist’s family’s non-cooperation with the authorities in the investigation led to flaws in the investigation.
“It is the court’s job to highlight flaws in the investigation, not correct them,” the three-member bench said in the verdict.
“There were doubts in the version of events presented by the prosecution […] the defendants are being released as the prosecution was unable to provide solid evidence,” it said.
Meanwhile, Justice Yahya Afridi wrote a dissenting note in the detailed verdict, saying Sheikh was the last person to be seen with the journalist, and the evidence proves it.
“The prosecution’s evidence against Ahmed Omar Sheikh […] in Daniel Pearl murder case was sufficient,” the judge said.