BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Talking Point  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
Forum
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Omar Sheikh: Did he get a fair trial?
British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh has been sentenced to death by a special anti-terrorism court in Pakistan for abducting and murdering US journalist Daniel Pearl.

Mr Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi while researching Islamic fundamentalism for the Wall Street Journal.

Execution in Pakistan is usually by hanging, but Omar Sheikh's defence team says it will appeal against the ruling.

His three co-accused, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil, were also found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The trial has angered Islamic militants, who accuse Pakistan's government of betraying them by abandoning the Afghan Taleban and supporting the United States after 11 September.

What are your views on the outcome of this trial?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


Is the death penalty the only answer?

NJ, India
Sheikh is known for hijacking the Indian Airlines plane in Kandahar and was released from an Indian prison in exchange for the release of passengers. In my view he should be punished for all violent crimes for which he has been found guilty. But is the death penalty the only answer?
NJ, India

This 'war against terrorism' has turned into a travesty of justice. The execution of Omar Sheikh will do nothing but prove to Muslims all over the world that the West regards their human rights as secondary to its military campaign.
Dan Brett, Kolkata, India and UK

None of us here knows for sure whether the trial was fair or not. If Omar is the real culprit then he should be hanged, no doubt about it. Looking at his criminal past I believe he is. But what amused me is that in Pakistan a murder trial takes more than a year to come to court. In this case it was less than 6 months. That makes me to believe that the Pakistani government staged this trial under pressure.
Abdul Wahid, Madras/India


Absolutely the right verdict

Ashraf Hussain, UK
It was absolutely the right verdict. People like Omar, who hide behind the name of a great religion, should be wiped off the face of this earth. I, like the silent majority, follow the great religion called Islam, and are fed-up of people like Omar holding us hostage to their crimes.
Ashraf Hussain, UK

At least he got a trial ,which is more then Daniel Pearl got.
Paul G, USA / UK

How is anyone not directly involved to know if the trial was conducted fairly? It's interesting that those who have remained silent about Pakistani 'justice' for a half century are now speaking about it rather loudly - and without much justification.
Jack, USA

I don't understand that what the problem is with British government; they can't seem to be satisfied with any thing that Pakistan does. I do believe that Omar was guilty and he got what he deserved, he should have gotten a death sentence a long time ago.
Muazzam Malik, USA/Pakistan


What makes you automatically think a foreign country is incapable of trying someone fairly?

Bill, UK
I'd just like to ask those of you who don't think the guy got a fair trial: What makes you automatically think a foreign country is incapable of trying someone fairly? Did any of you go to Pakistan and hear the evidence or did you just hear the distilled version on the news? Miscarriages of justice are tragically commonplace both here and abroad but there's no reason to believe there was one in this case.
Bill, UK

We will never be in a position to know whether Sheikh is guilty of this crime. What is becoming increasingly clear is that certain people in Pakistan are extremely happy to be getting rid of him. Bear in mind that once upon a time he had access to some of the highest members of the Pakistani intelligence service, a service that is still riddled with strong pro-Taliban elements. As they say, "He knows too much", and this is why he will be killed.
Tom, UK

I'd just like to ask those of you who don't think the guy got a fair trial ...... what makes you automatically think a foreign country is incapable of trying someone fairly? Did any of you go to Pakistan and hear the evidence or did you just hear the distilled version on the news? Miscarriages of justice are tragically commonplace both here and abroad but there's no reason to believe there was one in this case.
Bill, UK


Perhaps in the future we will know just how much the US and internal pressure influenced this verdict

Christopher Magee, USA
The verdict, for good or ill, is one that will forever be coloured by the circumstances of the day. It does not matter whether he was innocent or guilty of this crime. Perhaps in the future we will know just how much the US and internal pressure influenced this verdict.
Christopher Magee, USA

Did he get a fair trial? Typical, every time a Brit is convicted of a criminal offence abroad, it's a fix! Just because he was found guilty doesn't mean that the evidence was bogus and he didn't do it.
G. Mcaleer, UK

The war against terrorism is the biggest challenge the civilised world has faced since its defeat of Nazism. We have learned a hard lesson as to how radicalism and fundamentalism can lead to destruction of the basis of any faith or creed, i.e. the human soul. Anyone who supports this kind of action is guilty of that same crime.
Edmor, UK

Sheikh is a known terrorist who was released from an Indian prison in exchange for the release of passengers on a hijacked Indian Airlines plane. Since he has not shown any compunction towards taking innocent human life, he should not be shown any mercy in return.
Abhijit, USA


This guy is no innocent

Frank, Pittsburgh, USA
Let us remember who we are talking about. Omar Sheikh is the same terrorist that was released by India after Omar Sheikh's terrorist comrades hijacked and Indian passenger airplane. This guy is no innocent and given his own statements is most likely the culprit as Pearl was looking to meet him for a story on fundamentalism for the Wall Street Journal. Why do so many weep for this terrorist ?
Frank, Pittsburgh, USA

I just went through Omar's profile on BBC's web site and I cannot believe that a person like him could commit murder. And I doubt that Omar had a fair trial because Pakistani authorities were under immense pressure by US government to convict Omar so they can prove that they are winning the war against terrorism. The war doesn't end with Omar's execution; to win the war US needs to understand what makes people like Omar turn against it. Its about time for US to find and address the 'real' issues!
Talha Peracha, Virginia, USA

Regardless of the religion, community, race, language or geographical location, everyone is same under the justice. I happened to see the video clip (with sound) of how D.Pearl was cut on his neck to death. All responsible for this cannot be humans. They should be punished the same way Pearl was killed. Whether they are punished by the courts or not one day they will have to answer to God.
Tisseira, Sri Lanka


Just because a load of journalists weren't allowed in the court room, it doesn't mean that it wasn't a fair trial.

KT, UK
We don't know if the trial was fair or not. Just because a load of journalists weren't allowed in the court room, it doesn't mean that it wasn't a fair trial. It could have been perfectly fair. As for a fair verdict, just because justice needs to be delivered for the Pearl family et al, it doesn't mean that it was the right decision. I hope it was a fair trial, but at the end of the day, only God (no matter in which incarnation) knows.
KT, UK

I'd say it was partly a fair trial, because Sheikh Omar deserved a punishment for what he did. But I'm against the death penalty. I believe he was awarded the death sentence to please the US and it's allies.
Sidrah, Pakistan

The death penalty is the correct penalty for exacting justice from those guilty of murder. Daniel Pearl was executed in a most barbaric and savage manner by Islam extremists who have no regard for human life. Get the rope and let justice be done by terminating Omar Saeed Sheikh for the violent crimes for which he has been found guilty.
John Lillpop, United States of America


His judicial murder will no serve no good whatsoever

T. Kubitz, Germany
The death penalty is wrong in all circumstances. I don't know whether this young man is guilty or not, but what I do know is that his judicial murder will no serve no good whatsoever. We would all do well, Europeans, Asians and Americans alike, to let go of the bloodlust which simply perpetuates and intensifies the flames of fanaticism, violence and despair.
T. Kubitz, Germany

While I cannot say whether the trial was fair or not (since I do not have all the legal details), I sure know that he got the right verdict.
Wale, Nigeria

I think he should be locked up, but not executed.
Adam Nayyar, Pakistan

I was privileged to work within the Pakistan Supreme Court when doing a study on IT requirements. My experience was that the Pakistan justice system at the levels that would have dealt with Saeed Sheikh were of a world class quality. Dispensing and maintaining justice, despite what must be extraordinary pressures to be partisan. Of course he got a fair trial, fairness is not whether he got away with it, but whether he was rightly convicted. Of that I am sure.
Simon Mallett, UK


I fear their courage will be punished by Omar's henchmen

Adam, US
Those who believe the courts have bowed to US pressure and that the verdict was predetermined don't realise that this animal is making threats toward the judge and prosecution for doing their jobs. Each man working on the prosecution knew that he would be risking his life to extremist revenge if a guilty verdict was delivered. Which is more threatening - stern disapproval by the US (which would nevertheless do nothing if the verdict was innocent), or beheading by friends of Omar? I applaud the courage of the prosecution to do their duty in the court, and now I fear their courage will be punished by Omar's henchmen.
Adam, US

Considering that Omar should still be in prison for his proven part in a previous kidnapping and that the US has overwhelming evidence against this man in other cases, he should be in prison regardless of this verdict. My only complaint is that he was not extradited to the US. He perpetrated a crime against our citizen, he was vehemently anti-Semitic and unrepentant and now is threatening to kill the judge and prosecution. Death is too good for him.
Adam, USA

With so much hype and hysteria surrounding the war on terrorism we should not expect anyone convicted of terrorism against the US to receive a fair trial. I think we should all follow the trial of John Walker, the American Taleban, with this in mind.
Frank Le Gros, UK

Everyone knows what amounts to a "confession" in brutal regimes. I wouldn't be surprised if this poor taxi driver was beaten into "testifying".
Abu Isa, UK


The West is choosing to ignore the flawed justice system in Pakistan

W Javed, London
There is no such thing as a completely free and fair trial in most courts in south Asia. While Saeed may have had a hand, or full control, over the murder of Pearl, the West is choosing to ignore the flawed justice system in Pakistan. Pakistan is determined to murder Saeed as he could expose the ISI's possible dirty links with militant/terrorist groups as well as al-Qaeda. It appears any injustice is acceptable to the West as long as it contributes to their war on terror - regardless of the accompanying denial of civil and human rights.
W Javed, London

It reminds me of Musharraf saying "I want the death sentence for Omar Sheikh" after watching the Pearl video.
Usman Haider, Pakistan

How can we tell if it was fair or not? It was held behind closed doors! A fair trial should be held mainly in public, with only short closed sessions to hear sensitive evidence. Even so, the gist of the sensitive evidence should be made public.
AL, UK

Fair trial? What a joke. With reporters kept out and the Pakistani government licking Bush's boots, how could this be anything but a kangaroo court?
Nick, US


It will intensify the hatred

Helen Banks, Cornwall, UK
Do those who made the decision to kill Omar Sheikh not realise that to take another life won't bring back Daniel Pearl but it will intensify the hatred that his horrific death symbolised?
Helen Banks, Cornwall, UK

As he is found guilty the law of the land should prevail. Why should he be treated any different to any Pakistani national in the eyes of the law?
Adeel, UK

There is a fine line in this case between justice and vengeance, and whilst the crime committed was truly horrific, we should be certain that justice has been done before this man loses his life. After all, justice is one of our so-called values.
D Walton, UK


Even with an expected militant backlash, the only option was a death sentence

Raph, UK
The verdict was predetermined. The Pakistani government had to give the death sentence otherwise there was a real chance of Omar Sheikh being extradited to the US. Dangerous for the Pakistani government as it would have lead to the US learning more about their involvement in Indian controlled Kashmir. Even with an expected militant backlash, the only option was a death sentence. While the US government just wanted someone found guilty to appease their public, they have bigger fish to fry (Mr Bin Laden) to really care if he is the right guy or not.
Raph, UK

The sentence of death is never fair. It is wrong. The UK should express the correct legal sentiment that this sort of justice belongs to an era past.
NAK, Edinburgh, Scotland

Whilst this will not undo the terrible act that Sheikh perpetrated, it will at least ensure that he cannot carry out another. I hope Pakistan execute him quickly.
Michael, UK

How can I judge if Omar Saeed Sheikh had a fair trial? Unless I hear the whole case in court, I know too little. In the US I do not question a court's decision when I am so removed from the case. Let others do the same!
Richard Namon, USA

Not a fair trial. He is victim of the military government's efforts to please the US and keep the firm grip on dictatorial rule.
Perwez Abdullah, UK

If the Pakistan government has to show it to international community that it is backing the US lead anti-terrorism drive, it has no other option than to punish Omar Saeed Sheikh.
Shrinivas, India

Omar Sheikh committed a crime abroad and has to face the penalties there. Jack Straw should not interfere.
Nick, UK

Like some of the people already suggested this decision was already reached before the verdict. Even though he may deserve the death penalty/life imprisonment for his cowardly act in the name of religion I think the decision was made to please the West. Pakistan would be praised in the west as standing up to terrorism etc. I am sure any lay man would know that this verdict was done to please America. The trial could as well be held in America because it looks like Pakistan's constitution or judicial system could be easily set aside by American/Western pressure.
Kumar, India

No way can this be called a fair trial. The verdict of death had already been issued even before the trial had started. Pakistan is obviously making a scapegoat out of this man to please Bush and his team.
Connie, Wales

The US and its allies have got to continue to relentlessly pursue and inflict defeats on these murderers. Today is a good day but a better day will come when the death sentence is carried out. Overall the American people are not pleased with the lagging efforts of Bush and his administration to destroy al-Qaeda. They want to see men like Saeed destroyed so that the morale of these organisations is further diminished and our dead are avenged.
Will McElgin, USA


It will create problems for the Pakistani government

Qaisar Butt, Pakistan
This decision came under American pressure. It will create problems for the Pakistani government and also for Americans who are living in Pakistan.
Qaisar Butt, Pakistan

Now Omar Sheikh has been found guilty everyone in the West will laud the Pakistani justice system. If he had been acquitted the West would have said that Pakistani justice had failed or worse that Pakistan sponsors terrorism and is part of some axis of evil.
Omar Mughal, UK

Although I believe that Omar Saeed Sheikh is very likely to be the culprit given his track record, I do not think that the trial has been fair. The sentence looks more like a result of Pakistan's need to appease the West than its own desire to bring the criminal(s) to justice.
Sachin, India

By any standards, fairer than the process Daniel Pearl was put through prior to his murder.
Andrew Cover, UK

To Andrew Cover, UK: Of course the trial was more fair than the 'trial' Pearl received before his horrific murder. But atrocious crimes should be answered with trials that are *scrupulously* fair. Excusing anything less will lead to net injustice which benefits nobody.
Rob Sears, UK

Well done to Pakistan for standing up to this man and his group. Jack Straw should keep his nose out of this and let Pakistani justice hand out its own punishment, and learn from them how to stand up to criminals.
CS, UK

CS, UK so you would be in favour of Britain adopting a form of Shariah law then would you?
D Walton, UK

 VOTE RESULTS
Did Omar Sheikh get a fair trial?

Yes
 68.93% 

No
 31.07% 

882 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


The victim

The militant

Related stories

Talking Point

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

15 Jul 02 | South Asia
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes