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Pakistan's top court orders alleged Daniel Pearl killer to be moved from prison

Pakistan's top court orders alleged Daniel Pearl killer to be moved from prison

A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Oct 31, 2018. (File photo: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the release from prison on Tuesday (Feb 2) of Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, a ringleader in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl by Al-Qaeda and Pakistani militants in 2002.

Pakistan's government had appealed to the court on Friday to review its decision to free the British-born militant and three others convicted in the case, a day after their acquittal by a panel of three judges.

The United States also expressed concern over Sheikh's acquittal, and top US diplomat Antony Blinken repeated a call for accountability in his first phone call with Pakistan's foreign minister on Friday.

The review panel, headed by Justice Omar Ata Bandyal, stood by the decision to acquit, and recommended that Sheikh should be moved to a "rest house" before being fully released.

"He should be moved to a comfortable residential environment, something like a rest house, where he can live a normal life," the judge said.

READ: Pakistan court frees man accused of beheading US journalist Daniel Pearl

READ: Pakistan lawyers seek review of acquittals in Daniel Pearl murder

As the government makes the arrangements in the next two days, Sheikh will be kept in a comfortable environment in the jail with permission to see his family, the court said.

"It is not a complete freedom. It is a step toward freedom," the prisoner's father, Saeed Sheikh, told Reuters Television.

The terms of Sheikh's release will become clearer once a written order is made public.

On assignment for the Wall Street Journal in the months after Al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks on the US, Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi and later beheaded. Al-Qaeda's number three leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to killing Pearl, and Sheikh, a former student at the London School of Economics, had played key role in luring the journalist into a trap.

Captured in Pakistan in 2003, Mohammed is being held at the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, on the island of Cuba, where he is a awaiting trial on multiple counts, and could face the death penalty.

Source: Reuters/kg

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