KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday directed assistant prosecutor general to file comments on an application of accused in murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, seeking transfer of his trial from Hyderabad Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to Karachi ATC.
Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, who headed a single bench, was hearing a transfer application filed by Muhammad Hashim nominated in murder case. The bench adjourned the hearing of case till May 26 when assistant prosecutor general Muntazir Mehndi requested it for some time to file comments.
The 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter, Pearl, was abducted in Karachi on January 23, 2002 while he was researching a story about Islamist militants. Later, he was decapitated by his captors. Omer Saeed Sheikh, who masterminded the murder, was sentenced to death, while Salman Saqib Shaikh, Fahad Naseem and Muhammad Adil got a 25-year-old imprisonment sentence in 2002. However, ATC had shown seven accused including Hashim as absconders. Hashim was arrested on September 6, 2005.
Applicants counsel Syed Mehmood Alam Rizvi submitted before the court that Hashim, who was nominated in Pearl murder case, had been behind bars since his arrest while the trial court had examined eight prosecution witnesses. The trial of accused could not proceed further as the presiding officer of ATC Hyderabad Javed Alam was transferred, he said while adding that newly posted presiding officer of ATC Abdul Ghafoor Memon had already refused to hear the case when he was presiding officer of the ATC-II Karachi.
He stated that applicant was suffering due to inordinate delay in conclusion of the trial and has become ill. He argued that such delay in proceedings was a gross violation of anti-terrorism laws. Therefore, he requested the court to transfer the case to any ATC in Karachi and issue directives for early disposal of case.