- State Dept says they have been assured that accused have not been released
- US says it continues to stand with Pearl family
- SHC declared detention of accused exonerated in Daniel Pearl case illegal
WASHINGTON: The US on Thursday expressed "deep concern" over the Sindh High Court's (SHC) ruling ordering the release of the accused in the Daniel Pearl case, adding that it will be “closely following” the matter.
Taking to Twitter, State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said: “We are deeply concerned by the reports of the December 24 ruling of Sindh High Court to release multiple terrorists responsible for the murder of Daniel Pearl.”
The State Department's bureau said that they have been “assured” by the Pakistani authorities that the “accused have not been released”. It added that the case was ongoing and would be monitoring it closely.
“We continue to stand with the Pearl family through this extremely difficult process. We continue to honour Daniel Pearl’s legacy as a courageous journalist,” said the State Department SCA Bureau.
SHC declares detention of accused illegal
A day earlier, the SHC declared the detention of the accused in the Daniel Pearl case illegal and ordered their immediate release.
The court declared the notification regarding the detention of Umer Shaikh and four other accused illegal and ordered their immediate release. The court also directed officials to place the accused on the Exit Control List.
The SHC said the accused have been in jail for the last 18 years without committing any crime. It added that their imprisonment was illegal and ordered them to appear before the court when they are summoned.
Earlier this year, the SHC had acquitted three of the accused in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl. It had also converted prime accused Umer Saeed Sheikh's death penalty into a seven-year prison sentence.
Later, however, Sindh had invoked the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) law to prevent all of the Daniel Pearl murder suspects from walking free, ordering they be kept in detention for another 90 days.
Following, the SHC verdict, the Sindh government filed an appeal in the Supreme Court over the ruling in which three of the four accused were acquitted and a death sentence of the prime accused was commuted.