A British-born man sentenced to death for kidnapping and beheading Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan could walk free this week, reports said Monday.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was found guilty in 2002 of being the mastermind behind Daniel Pearl’s brutal murder but his death sentence was overturned in April after Pakistani prosecutors failed to prove he was the killer, The Guardian reported at the time.
“The court has commuted Omar’s death sentence to a seven-year sentence. The murder charges were not proven, so he was given seven years for the kidnapping. Omar has already served 18 years, so his release orders will be issued sometime today. He will be out in a few days,” defense lawyer Khawaja Naveed told Reuters back in April, according to The Guardian.
Pearl’s family, the U.S. Government and media rights groups were outraged over the decision and appeals were filed to reverse the ruling, the outlet reported.
In response, Saeed Sheikh was instead held on a 90-day detention order, expiring Thursday, under a public ordinance that allows defendants to be held in custody longer if their release could lead to violence and chaos, the outlet reported.
However, Pakistan’s supreme court refused a government request to suspend the lower court’s decision to release Saeed Sheikh on Monday and refused to promptly hear an appeal on the ruling, which is now scheduled for Sept. 25, the outlet said.
Pakistan’s prosecutor, Faiz Shah, declined to say whether they will seek an order extending Saeed Sheikh’s detention, meaning the man could be walking free as early as Thursday, the outlet reported.
“The prosecution’s cases are won or lost not on the basis of emotion, they are won or lost on the basis of evidence and in this case the prosecution did a woeful job,” Mahmood Sheikh, Saeed Sheikh’s lawyer, no relation, told The Guardian.
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