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Pakistan Court Accepts Appeal From Family Of Beheaded American Journalist To Keep Reported Killers On Death Row

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The Pakistan Supreme Court accepted an American journalist’s family’s appeal to keep the man who allegedly killed him on death row, the Associated Press reported.

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh has been on death row since he was convicted of aiding the beheading of 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, though he was acquitted by a lower court in April, the AP reported.

The Pakistan government previously said Sheikh’s release would endanger the public and has argued for him to remain in custody through the duration of the appeal process, the AP reported. The Pakistan Supreme Court will make a decision on this matter next week, according to the Pearl family’s lawyer, Faisal Siddiqi.

“The appeal could take years,” Siddiqi said, the AP reported. “Today the court admitted the appeal and next week it will decide if Sheikh stays in jail.”

Shiekh was initially convicted of aiding in Pearl’s kidnapping but was acquitted by a lower court in April, the AP reported. Sheikh was also charged with abduction, which he is appealing.

Sheikh said his role in Pearl’s death as “a relatively minor one” in a handwritten statement dated July 19, 2019, the AP reported. Though, Siddiqi said Sheikh’s acknowledgment of his role implicates himself in Pearl’s death.

“We felt like [it was] a thunderstorm that is about to reopen our pains of 2002,” Pearl’s father Judea Pearl told the AP. “Pakistan’s judicial system caved to either inside or outside pressure to send a message of impunity to extremist elements worldwide.”

There was “ample evidence” to keep Sheikh on death row, Siddiqi said, the AP reported. “There is eyewitness evidence, there is forensic evidence, there are confessional statements,” Siddiqi said, the AP reported. (RELATED: Pakistan Overturns Convictions In Murder Of Wall Street Journal Reporter Daniel Pearl)

Sheikh’s lawyer Mahmood Shaikh said he suffered a heart attack while addressing the lower court and was committed to two weeks of bed rest, the AP reported. The Sindh provincial government also seeks to appeal Shiekh’s acquittal, the AP reported.

Pearl was abducted on Jan. 23, 2002, and Pakistani police looked for him for weeks before a video of his beheading was sent to U.S. diplomats, the AP reported.

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