My son not behind Pearl’s killing, says Saeed Sheikh

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Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh’s father has claimed his son was not responsible for the tragic killing of the American journalist, Daniel Pearl but has been denied justice for nearly two decades. He says his son remains in a limbo despite the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decision clearing him of all charges.

Speaking to this correspondent here, Saeed Sheikh welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court because the prosecution failed to prove murder charges against Omar. The court also rejected the Sindh government’s appeal and ordered the release of Omar Sheikh, the prime accused in the 2002 murder of Pearl in Karachi.

Sheikh said his son was kept in illegal detention by the Sindh government despite the Supreme Court decision in his favour and now remains in Punjab government’s custody under the pressure of the American government.

Saeed Sheikh had been visiting Pakistan quietly almost three to four times a year for the last two decades to pursue his son’s high profile case that continued to make international news. Reporters kept knocking at his doors all these years but he had avoided the media, kept a low profile and focused on his son’s case.

He told Geo and The News: “I have fought against the odds. There was no point connecting to the media before. The avalanche of news against my son has been so strong but I thought it’s best not to connect at all as it has all been one sided and I could’ve hardly done anything to change this.”

When asked how much has he spent in legal fees so far, Sheikh replied: “Money is immaterial. I will do anything for my son. We have stood by him just because we have always believed that he is an innocent man and he didn’t commit any of the heinous crimes he was accused of.”

Sheikh blames the prosecution for falsifying evidence, presenting fake witnesses and committing fraud “just to my son in prison”. He plans to release the “facts” of the case for public knowledge in coming days.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal against Omar’s acquittal on January 27 and ordered for his release. The decision was not only criticised by the Pearl family who called it “a complete travesty of justice” but by the White House was “outraged” at the court’s order too according to its spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

She called the ruling “an affront to terrorism victims everywhere” and called on the Pakistani government to “review its legal options.” Interestingly, Omar admitted a “minor” role in the death of Daniel Pearl in handwritten letter that was submitted to the Supreme Court around two weeks before the decision. His written admission was at odds with 18 years of denial about his involvement in the killing. The court had also ordered the release of the three other Pakistanis who were sentenced to life in for their part in Pearl’s kidnapping and death.

The News