KARACHI: The Sindh High Court issued on Monday a notice to the provincial prosecutor general to file comments on an application seeking transfer of the murder case of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl from an anti-terrorism court in Hyderabad to Karachi.
Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, who headed a single-judge bench, was hearing the application filed by accused Mohammad Hashim, seeking speedy trial of the case.
The 38-year-old Pearl was abducted in Karachi on January 23, 2002, while he was working on 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 Mohammad Adil were sentenced to a 25-year jail term in 2002. But the court had shown seven other accused, including Hashim, as absconders.
Hashim was arrested on Sept 6, 2005.
Applicant’s counsel Syed Mehmood Alam Rizvi submitted before the court that Hashim had been behind bars since his arrest, while the trial court had examined eight prosecution witnesses so far.
He said the trial of the accused could not proceed further as the presiding officer of ATC Hyderabad, Javed Alam, had been transferred and the 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 said the applicant was suffering due to inordinate delay in conclusion of the trial and had become ill.
The counsel argued that such delay in proceedings was a gross violation of anti-terrorism laws.
He requested the court to transfer the case to any ATC in Karachi and issue directives for its early disposal. The hearing was adjourned till May 19