Daniel murder case: SHC wants early disposal of co-accused trial

KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Monday the trial court to expedite the trial of co-accused in the kidnapping and murder case of US journalist Daniel Pearl.

Muhammad Hashim, nominated in kidnapping and murder case, had gone to the court seeking speedy conclusion of his trial in the case.

The 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter, Pearl, was abducted in Karachi on January 23, 2002 while he was researching a story about Islamist militants. Later, he was decapitated by his captors. Omer Saeed Sheikh, who masterminded the murder, was sentenced to death, while Salman Saqib Shaikh, Fahad Naseem and Muhammad Adil got a 25-year-old imprisonment sentence in 2002. However, ATC had shown seven accused including Hashim as absconders. Hashim was arrested on September 6, 2005.

Applicant’s counsel submitted that Hashim, co-accused in Pearl murder case, had been behind bars since his arrest while the trial court had examined so far 8 prosecution witnesses. The trial of accused could not proceed further as the presiding officer of ATC Hyderabad Javed Alam was transferred, he said while adding that newly posted presiding officer of ATC Abdul Ghafoor Memon had already refused to hear the case when he was presiding officer of the ATC-II Karachi.

He stated that applicant was suffering due to inordinate delay in conclusion of the trial and has become ill. He argued that such delay in proceedings was a gross violation of anti-terrorism laws. Therefore, he requested the court to transfer the case to any ATC in Karachi and issue directives for early disposal of it.

During hearing on Monday, the court was informed that since the trial court had recorded the deposition of witnesses in the case, applicant shall be satisfied if the trial court is asked to speed up the trial.

The court while disposing of the transfer application directed court to proceed in the matter expeditiously.

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