US Jewish Leaders Call for Killer of Daniel Pearl to Remain in Prison for ‘Rest Of His Days’
The Islamist terrorist convicted in Pakistan for the murder of US Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl “should be behind bars for the rest of his days,” the main organization representing American Jewish groups declared in a statement this week, amid continuing concern over the possible release of the killer, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
In 2002, Sheikh was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for masterminding the kidnapping and murder of Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, in the city of Karachi in January of that year.
This past April, however, a lower court commuted Sheikh’s sentence to a seven-year prison term, arguing that he should be released immediately as he had already served 18 years on death row. The following day, Sheikh and three others who were acquitted were rearrested and detained for three months.
On Monday, responding to an appeal from the Pearl family’s lawyer, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that Sheikh’s detention should be extended until next week. The court will then rule on whether to release Sheikh, or keep him in custody as his case is again appealed.
Noting that the appeal “could take years,” Faisal Siddiqui, the lawyer for the Pearl family, told the AP news agency following Monday’s hearing that he was pressing for Sheikh’s continued incarceration during the process.
Siddiqui added that there was “ample evidence” to overturn Sheikh’s appeal and return him to death row.
“There is eyewitness evidence, there is forensic evidence, there are confessional statements,” he said.
In a statement welcoming the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision not to release Sheikh on Monday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations argued that the British national should spend the remainder of his life in prison.
“This killer should be behind bars for the rest of his days; anything less would be a painful insult to the Pearl family,” the statement said. “They have suffered enough in the years since this atrocity occurred.”
The statement noted that the “last words of Daniel Pearl, an American citizen, were ‘My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish.’ Those responsible for his death were motivated by their hatred of who he was and must be held accountable. We call on the US government to do all it can to ensure that justice is served in this case.”