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Principal accused in kidnapping and murder of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl receives death sentence, three co-accused receive 25-year sentences

(PPF/IFEX) - Sheikh Omar Saeed, the principal accused in the kidnapping and murder of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl, was sentenced to death on 15 July 2002 in a Hyderabad court.

The sentence was announced by the Anti-Terrorism Court in the city of Hyderabad. The court also handed down 25-year prison sentences to the three other co-accused, Salman Saquib, Sheikh Adil and Farhad Nasim.

Background Information

Pearl disappeared on 23 January while investigating links between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, who was arrested in December 2001 with explosives in his shoes while on a flight from Paris to Miami.

On 27 January, "The Wall Street Journal" received a first e-mail from a previously unknown organisation called the National Movement for Restoration of Pakistan's Sovereignty. The group's e-mail included images of Pearl in captivity. The message demanded the release of Al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners held at a United States detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On 30 January, "The Wall Street Journal" received a 24-hour ultimatum for the acceptance of several demands and threats that Pearl would be killed if the demands were not met.

On 11 February, police arrested three persons supected of sending the e-mails. They arrested Sheikh Omar the next day. A videotape was received by media and other organisations on 21 February showing Pearl being murdered.

A body that police believe may be that of Pearl was found in May in a shallow grave in Karachi, but the results of DNA tests have yet to be announced.

There was extremely tight security surrounding the trial. All roads leading to the Hyderabad jail where the trial was conducted were closed to traffic.

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