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Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 12:37 GMT
Pearl case extradition 'possible'
Sindh high court
The ruling follows assurances from government lawyers
A Pakistani court has ruled it would not violate national laws to extradite the chief suspect in the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.

Daniel Pearl in captivity
Pearl's body has yet to be found

The ruling by the high court of southern Sindh province threw out a petition filed last week by the wife of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, asking for the extradition to be blocked.

The United States has asked Pakistan to hand over the British-born militant, known as Sheikh Omar, who has said he masterminded the abduction.

The court ruling, which followed assurances by government lawyers, said this could be done "without any contravention of the law of the land".

Pearl, 38, a Wall Street Journal correspondent, was kidnapped in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on 23 January. A videotape of his death by beheading surfaced a month later.

Legal negotiations

Pakistan has said it is considering the US request to extradite Sheikh Omar, but is reserving the right to try him in domestic courts.

The United States has no extradition treaty with Pakistan, but government lawyers in Karachi say it might still be possible to find a way to hand him over.

The militant told the court on 14 February when he was not speaking under oath that he arranged the kidnapping - an admission made before Pearl's death was confirmed.

But in a later appearance, he complained to the judge that he was being pressed to sign a confession.

The United States has offered a $5m reward for information leading to the capture of Mr Pearl's killers.

A group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claimed responsibility for the kidnap and demanded that the United States release the detainees it is holding at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones
"There is no extradition treaty between the US and Pakistan"
See also:

27 Feb 02 | South Asia
US offers reward for Pearl killers
26 Feb 02 | South Asia
US seeks Pearl suspect's extradition
26 Feb 02 | South Asia
Pearl widow backs hunt for killers
25 Feb 02 | South Asia
Pearl kidnap suspect accuses police
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
US broadcasts $25m Bin Laden bounty
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