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Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
US 'confirms' Pearl body identification
Pakistani security personnel guard the Karachi shed where the body was found
Strong indications that the trial is nearing a climax
US officials are reported to have confirmed that the body found in Pakistan on Friday was that of the missing journalist Daniel Pearl.

the body was found in a room which resembles closely what was shown on the pictures sent by e-mails showing Pearl in captivity

Pakistani police official
CNN cited US State Department sources as saying that initial forensic tests had confirmed that the remains were those of the late Wall Street Journal reporter.

The network reported that one final genetic test would be conducted to confirm the results.

Pakistani police, who dug up the remains from an isolated shed outside the city of Karachi, have so far declined to give any firm confirmation.

The dismembered and decomposed body was recovered from a shallow grave after three men recently detained by Pakistani security forces tipped off the police.

Four other men, including the British-born militant Omar Sheikh, are being tried by a special court at Hyderabad on charges of abducting and murdering Mr Pearl. They have pleaded not guilty.

On Friday, Pakistani officials stressed that detailed forensic examinations, including DNA testing, would be needed to identify the body and that this could take a number of days.

FBI help

However, Pakistani sources have indicated that circumstantial evidence suggests the remains are indeed those of Mr Pearl.

An FBI investigator at the shed where the remains were found
US sources have been more forthcoming
Police told the AFP news agency the body had been found in a room which "resembles closely what was shown on the pictures sent by e-mails showing Pearl in captivity."

Police also 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.

The remains and the site where they were found were inspected by FBI agents, who are helping Pakistani policemen with their investigation.

Dire warning

On Saturday, the police in Karachi were reluctant to comment on the reports from Washington.

Chief suspect Omar Sheikh outside the court
Omar Sheikh has remained unrepentant
Sources told the BBC they were anxious to present "irrefutable evidence" to the special court in Hyderabad and would not make any public comment before then.

Meanwhile, prime suspect Omar Sheikh was quoted by the local press as having warned that if Pakistan wanted peace, it should end its friendship with the United States.

Omar Sheikh's lawyer Rai Bashir is reported to have passed on his comment that the US role in Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Afghanistan demanded a change in Pakistani policy.

He is said to have added that, unless Pakistan "honoured the blood of martyrs", it could face the wrath of God in the form of natural calamities.

See also:

17 May 02 | South Asia
'Pearl body' found dismembered
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
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