Tags: Pakistan | Wants | Death | for | Pearl's | Killers

Pakistan Wants Death for Pearl's Killers

Tuesday, 26 February 2002 12:00 AM

Sindh Province Attorney General Raja Qureshi said the prosecution would invoke the country's anti-terrorism laws, allowing it to seek the death penalty for those "aiding and abetting a terrorist act."

"Acts such as providing financial assistance and encouragement to terrorists can be punished with death as well," said Qureshi, who heads the government's legal team in the Pearl case.

"The laws also define murder and kidnapping as an act of terror, proposing the maximum penalty of death and the minimum of life imprisonment."

Pearl, 38, was kidnapped Jan. 23 from Karachi while trying to interview a radical Muslim leader. He was the South Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and was based in Bombay, India, but had moved to Karachi to cover the U.S.-led war on terror.

On Feb. 21, Pearl's kidnappers sent a videotape to U.S. and Pakistani officials showing his throat being slashed and his severed head. But investigators say Pearl was already dead when the film was made.

A week after the kidnapping, the abductors sent e-mail messages to media offices, listing their demands for his release. They had demanded the transfer of some Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners from the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Pakistan and better treatment for others.

One e-mail message also had Pearl's pictures with a gun pointed to his head.

Qureshi said under Pakistan's anti-terrorism laws "even those who sent the e-mail could face a death sentence."

A joint FBI and police team has arrested three men from a Karachi neighborhood in connection with the e-mail messages. One of them, Fahad Naseem, later told a court in Karachi he had sent the messages on the orders of the chief suspect, Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, who is in police custody.

Also known as Shaikh Omar, the 28-year old Muslim militant is a British national who attended the London School of Economics. He spent five years in Indian prisons for trying to kidnap Western tourists in New Delhi and was released in December 1999 in exchange for the passengers of a hijacked Indian plane.

On Monday, the White House said it wanted Omar and others linked Pearl's death extradited to the United States.

In Islamabad, U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Tuesday and discussed Omar's extradition to the United States, said embassy spokesman Mark Wentworth.

"She also thanked the president for ongoing police cooperation in the Pearl case and encouraged further movement in it," said Wentworth.

In Karachi, police produced Omar before a magistrate on Tuesday "as part of the ongoing investigation," a police spokesman said.

According to a previous, erroneous report on Fox News Channel, Pakistan would impose the death penalty only on the killer of a Muslim.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Sindh Province Attorney General Raja Qureshi said the prosecution would invoke the country's anti-terrorism laws, allowing it to seek the death penalty for those aiding and abetting a terrorist act. Acts such as providing financial assistance and encouragement to...
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2002-00-26
Tuesday, 26 February 2002 12:00 AM
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