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Murder conviction in Daniel Pearl's death overturned

Murder conviction in Daniel Pearl's death overturned
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A Pakistani court on Thursday overturned the conviction of the man found guilty in the 2002 kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The Karachi court instead found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh guilty of kidnapping, sentencing him to seven years in prison, The Associated Press reported.

Pearl, who was the newspaper’s South Asia bureau chief at the time of his death, traveled to Pakistan while investigating connections between Richard Reid, who was convicted of attempting to detonate a bomb in his shoe on an airplane, and al Qaeda.

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Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded in February 2002, and Saeed was convicted and sentenced to death that July.

As Saeed has been on death row for 18 years, he will likely be freed with time served unless the government challenges the decision, his lawyer, Khwaja Naveed, told The Associated Press. Faiz Sha, prosecutor general for Sindh province, said the government plans to appeal the judgment to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

The province’s High Court also acquitted three other men who had previously been serving life sentences in connection with the killing, Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil, and Salman Saqib, according to the AP.

Saeed initially admitted to sending a series of anonymous emails to Pakistani and U.S. news organizations in the wake of Pearl’s disappearance that demanded better treatment of prisoners at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but he has since recanted.

“Omar has already served 18 years, so his release orders will be issued sometime today. He will be out in a few days,” Naveed told Reuters.

“We will go through the court order once it is issued, we will probably file an appeal,” Shah told the news service.

During the appeals process, all of the accused will likely be freed, Muhammad Farooq, a lawyer at the Sindh High Court who was uninvolved in the case told Reuters.

“The prosecution cannot stop their release in this case, unless they produce a Supreme Court interim order,” he said.