A Pakistani court on Thursday reversed the death sentence of a man accused of beheading Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was arrested on the charge of kidnapping and murdering Pearl and sentenced to death. Pearl went to Pakistan after a story about “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and was supposed to meet an informant when he was kidnapped. The execution was videotaped as part of a demand for killers to release prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.
The Sheikh appealed the death sentence, and a panel of two judges of the Sindh High Court of Sindh found that the murder charges against Sheikh had not been proved, and they issued a sentence. His role in Pearl’s abduction was not controversial, and the panel sentenced him to seven years in prison. Sheikh has already spent 18 years in prison, and his defense lawyer, Khawaja Naveed, is expected to be released within a few days. The panel also acquitted three other men who were sentenced to life in prison for murder.
Once the prosecutor’s office passes a court order, “we will probably file an appeal,” Faiz Shah, the provincial prosecutor general, said.