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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 16:41 GMT
Pearl case suspect hears testimony
Armoured convoy
Security was tight for the court appearance
The chief suspect in the kidnapping of US journalist Daniel Pearl, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, has been produced before a court in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Sheikh Omar, as he is known, was brought in an armoured car surrounded by police vans and armed officers so that a formal statement could be taken from a witness.

He was taken into the court building concealed under a white sheet.

Sheikh Omar
Chief suspect could be extradited
The witness, a taxi driver, saw Sheikh Omar greeting Mr Pearl after dropping off the journalist at a restaurant, according to the police.

Daniel Pearl went missing in January while working on a story on Islamic militants.

The following month his abductors sent a video showing him being killed.

Lawyer

Journalists were barred from attending the latest hearing.

However, Sheikh Omar's lawyer, Saiful Maluk, said later that he did not cross-examine the taxi driver when he appeared because he and his client had not been given enough time to prepare.

Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl
Investigators are still looking for Mr Pearl's body
He also complained that conditions in the court were not suitable.

At an earlier pre-trial hearing, Sheikh Omar said he was behind the kidnapping of Mr Pearl, but later retracted the statement.

The US has indicated that it would like British-born Sheikh Omar to be extradited - despite the absence of any formal treaty between the US and Pakistan.

It has also offered a reward for information leading to the capture of Mr Pearl's killers.

Pakistan has said it is considering the extradition request, but may want to try him in its own courts.

See also:

07 Mar 02 | South Asia
Musharraf says Pearl 'too intrusive'
06 Mar 02 | South Asia
Chief suspect 'met dead US journalist'
05 Mar 02 | South Asia
Pearl case extradition 'possible'
27 Feb 02 | South Asia
US offers reward for Pearl killers
26 Feb 02 | South Asia
US seeks Pearl suspect's extradition
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