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Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
FBI agent testifies at Pearl trial
Pakistani paramilitary stands guard in front of Hyderabad central prison
Security at Hyderabad's central prison is tight
An FBI agent has given evidence at the trial in Pakistan of four men accused of the kidnap and murder of an American journalist, Daniel Pearl.

Ronald Joseph gave details of e-mails sent by a group claiming to have abducted the Wall Street Journal reporter, who disappeared in January in Karachi.

Daniel Pearl shackled in captivity
Mr Pearl's body has not been found

The FBI helped Pakistani investigators trace e-mails sent to news organisations by the group and threatening to kill other US citizens in the country.

All four accused deny murder, kidnapping and terrorism. They face the death penalty if convicted.

A videotape received by American diplomats a month after Pearl's abduction showed his throat being slit, but his body has never been found.

Security concerns

Mr Joseph arrived at the court, along with one of his colleagues, surrounded by dozens of armed men, as police sharpshooters looked on from their positions on nearby rooftops.

An armoured personnel carrier stood vigil outside the jail gates, and policemen with bullet-proof vests and machine guns patrolled the jail perimeter.

Acting on advice about the e-mails from the American agents, the investigators then made several arrests that eventually led to the capture of British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, one of the four co-defendants.

Closed trial

The trial is being held at Hyderabad prison, 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, for security reasons, and is closed to the media.

The court was moved there after prosecutors said they had found out about plans to attack Karachi central jail where it had been sitting.

The trial is being conducted by Pakistan's special anti-terrorist courts, which were set up several years ago to speed up trials by requiring cases to be heard and concluded within a limited time period.

Pakistan turned down a request by the United States for the extradition of the four suspects.

See also:

09 May 02 | South Asia
Pearl suspects' plea rejected
30 Apr 02 | South Asia
Pearl trial lawyers win new venue
25 Apr 02 | South Asia
Pearl trial lawyers request new judge
24 Apr 02 | South Asia
New evidence in Pearl case hearings
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