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EDITIONS
Monday, 15 July, 2002, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
UK welcomes Pearl murder verdicts
Daniel Pearl holding up newspaper
Daniel Pearl: Went missing in Karachi in January
News that a British-born Islamic militant has been found guilty of the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl has been welcomed by the Foreign Office.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh has been sentenced to death for abducting and murdering the Wall Street Journal reporter.


It is well known that we oppose the death penalty in all circumstances

Foreign Office
Responding to the sentence a Foreign Office spokesman said the UK Government supported the verdicts, but opposed the death penalty.

"Although we support the suspected terrorists being brought to justice it is well known that we oppose the death penalty in all circumstances," he said.

"The Pakistani authorities are already well aware of our position on this issue."

In addition to the death sentence for Omar Sheikh, three fellow militants were given 25-year prison sentences.

London-born Omar Sheikh is to appeal his sentence, his defence said.

Excluded journalists

The trial was held in a heavily guarded jail in Hyderabad.

During sentencing reporters were excluded but were briefed afterwards by court officials.

Omar Sheikh
Omar Sheikh: Could face death penalty
The trial began on 22 April in Karachi, but was transferred to Hyderabad after prosecutors said they feared for their lives.

A body which police believe may be that of Mr Pearl was found in May, but the results of DNA tests have yet to be announced.

Omar Sheikh had described the evidence against him as "a tissue of lies" and said it had been fabricated "to please the Americans".

And he has accused the police of forcing his co-defendants to make statements implicating him.

His lawyer Abdul Waheed Katpar told the court last week that testimony by several prosecution witnesses was contradictory.

Doubt?

He also said that allegations that evidence was fabricated and confessions coerced had not been answered.

In such circumstances, the benefit of the doubt should go to the defendants, Mr Katpar argued.

The prosecution has alleged that Omar Sheikh was seen meeting Daniel Pearl at a restaurant in Karachi on the day he disappeared.

Defence lawyers deny he was in Karachi at the time.

 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

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See also:

15 Jul 02 | South Asia
05 Jul 02 | South Asia
21 Jun 02 | South Asia
04 Jun 02 | South Asia
18 May 02 | South Asia
17 May 02 | South Asia
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