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Brother calls for re-trial

THE brother of convicted death row prisoner Ahmed Omar Sheikh a former student of Forest School, Walthamstow has called for a re-trial into the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Ahmed Omar Sheikh Ahmed Omar Sheikh

Awais Sheikh has spoken out following reports that a number of Pakistani militants have been detained by the police and quizzed over their part in Mr Pearl's kidnap and murder in January 2002.

Investigators say that senior officals in the Sindh police - the force responsible for the murder - are frightened that if militants arrested in the past year are tried for their part in the killing, the earlier case against Sheikh could fall apart.

However, his brother Awais, 25, believes the entire truth must come out for full justice to be served to his brother who is still awaiting a date for his appeal against the death sentence.

Mr Sheikh told the Guardian: "They've got the people they know committed the act but they're not doing anything about it.

"I think they should have a re-trial if there's new evidence because the first trial was a shambles. I'm hoping it's going to take place in a matter of months rather than a matter of years - it's already been two years and three months.

"Every two or three months there's been an announcement that they've found other suspects in the Pearl case, yet nothing is done.

"My brother is anxious for the truth to come out about his innocence and wants to be allowed to return to his family."

Ahmed Sheikh, known as Sheikh Omar, was sentenced to death for masterminding the kidnap and murder of Mr Pearl in January 2002.

Last August a Pakistani court granted him leave to appeal against his murder conviction but months later his family are still awaiting a date.

Their hopes were raised when the appeal case was transferred from Hyderabad to Karachi, following accusations of injustice in the Hyderabad court, but they have heard nothing since.

Latest chilling evidence from the other suspects in the case reveals that Daniel Pearl knew for several hours that he was about to be killed after his kidnap in 2002, but he resisted several attempts by his captors to sedate him.

Shocking video film of Pearl's murder, seen around the world via the internet, was only a partial reconstruction of what had happened a few minutes earlier.

Meanwhile, members of Mr Pearl's family say they want all of those involved in the journalist's death brought to book and they urged Pakistani authorities to hasten the hearing of Ahmed Omar Sheikh.

Sheikh first linked to terrorism in 1994

AHMED Sheikh first hit the headlines in connection with militant terrorism in 1994 when he was arrested in India after the kidnap of three British backpackers.

Sheikh had been arrested in Uttar Pradesh after it was claimed the then 20-year-old former Forest School pupil was one of the ringleaders in the Kashmiri Islamic group which held the men hostage for 10 days.

His mother and father, Qaissia and Saeed, have always staunchly refuted allegations their son holds extreme views and insisted the first charge of terrorism was out of character. Commenting on his alleged involvement in the Daniel Pearl murder, his father, Mr Seikh said in December 1994: "If he was involved, he was probably a prisoner of his own conscience, touched by the plight of the people who were suffering in India.

"He has always been a very passionate person, very involved in fundraising for the needy. We are just an ordinary family who live under the moral code of the Muslim faith, who care about people whatever creed or colour they are."

The former London School of Economics student was acquitted of all charged in relation to the 1994 kidnap charges and freed as part of a pact to release passengers on a hijacked Indian Airlines jet in December 1999.

He was arrested again in February 2002 in connection of the death of Daniel Pearl and charged with his murder, kidnap and terrorism at a Karachi court the following month.

The trial, heavily criticised by the family for being unfair, opened in April but proceedings were adjourned after lawyers sought more documents from the Pakistani government.

The trial venue was then moved from central jail in Karachi to Hyderabad for security reasons and Sheikh was one of four men found guilty of murdering and kidnapping Daniel Pearl. His three accomplices all received life imprisonment.

Daniel Pearl, a reporter with the Wall Street journal, was researching a story on Islamic militancy when he was kidnapped.

A videotape later surfaced showing him being murdered.

Police found a dismembered body in a shallow grave outside Karachi in May and the remains were later identified as those of Mr a shallow grave outside Karachi in May and the remains were later identified as those of Mr Pearl.

"My brother is anxious for the truth to come out"

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