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Friday, 17 May, 2002, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
'Pearl body' found dismembered
Compound search
Police acted on the tip-off of three arrested men
Pakistan police have said they believe the remains of a body found on Friday in Karachi are those of murdered American journalist Daniel Pearl.

The hair that we found strengthened our belief that the body belonged to Daniel Pearl

Pakistan police official
The body was dug up on a plot of land near a one-room building in an isolated area outside Karachi.

Police sources said the head had been severed from the body, which had itself been dismembered.

A government spokesman stressed there had been no definite identification of the body as yet, and investigations were continuing.

Local police say it could take days, if not weeks, to positively identify the body through DNA testing.

Police went to the area after a tip-off from three men arrested in connection with the murder of Mr Pearl, one of whom is thought to be on the list of seven absconders in the case.

'Cell' found

Police found a chair that resembles the one in photographs sent to news agencies by Pearl's kidnappers, chief investigator Mansour Mughal told the Associated Press.

Mr Mughal said buttons from the shirt Pearl was wearing in the photographs were also found and the room itself resembled the background in the pictures.

"We think this is the room where Pearl may have been held for two or three days," he said.

Daniel Pearl shackled in captivity
Pearl was investigating Islamic militants

A team of five doctors is currently examining the remains.

The site has also been visited by some American consular officials.

Mr Pearl, who worked for the Wall Street Journal, was abducted in Karachi in January while investigating Islamic militants and their possible links to alleged shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Photographs of him in captivity were e-mailed to media organisations, along with protests at American treatment of Taleban and al-Qaeda suspects captured during the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan.

A month after Mr Pearl disappeared, a graphic video showing his throat being cut was delivered to the American consulate in Karachi.

Four men on trial

Four men are being tried for the murder and kidnapping of Mr Pearl, including a British-born Islamic militant, Omar Sheikh. They have all pleaded not guilty.

When their trial resumed on Friday, Chief Prosecutor Raja Quereshi declined to comment on the discovery of the body found in Karachi and suggestions that it could be Mr Pearl's.

Most of Friday's proceedings were expected to be dominated by a prosecution request to send a panel to France to videotape the testimony of Mr Pearl's wife, Mariane.

On Thursday, two American FBI agents who helped Pakistani investigators trace e-mails sent to news organisations by a group claiming to have abducted Pearl were cross-examined by defence lawyers.

The BBC's Susannah Price reports from Islamabad
"Local police say it could be some time before all necessary tests are carried out"
See also:

15 May 02 | Americas
Pearl family anger at broadcast
12 May 02 | South Asia
FBI agent testifies at Pearl trial
09 May 02 | South Asia
Pearl suspects' plea rejected
30 Apr 02 | South Asia
Pearl trial lawyers win new venue
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