Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the authorities to shift terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime accused in the 2002 killing of American journalist Del Pearl, from a death cell in the Karachi Central Prison to government rest house within the next two or three days.
The country's apex court also ordered authorities to ensure the complete security of the rest house and allowed Sheikh's family access to him from 8 am to 5 pm, Geo News reported.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial resumed hearing today on the petition filed by the Sindh government seeking review of the apex court order to release the terrorist in connection with the journalist's murder case.
The apex court, on Monday, had extended the detention of Sheikh by one day on the request of the Sindh government to review his release.
The accused, however, will not be given access to mobile and internet services while his family will be given accommodation and transport on the government's expense, according to the court's directives.
Sheikh was one of three terrorists released by India in 1999 in exchange for a hijacked airliner.
In 2002, Pearl, the 38-year-old journalist of The Wall Street Journal's South Asia bureau, was abducted and beheaded while he was in Pakistan to investigate a story of terror groups' links to Al-Qaeda.
During the proceedings, attorney-general Khalid Jawed Khan told the court that Sheikh is not an ordinary accused, but a mastermind of terrorists and that he will disappear if released, Geo News reported.
Justice Munib Akhtar said the sacrifices of the armed forces are not denied, but the court is bound by the Constitution.
Justice Bandial remarked that Sheikh was "accused" of kidnapping Pearl. He asked the attorney-general whether it had been proved that Sheikh was involved in terrorist activities.
The attorney general argued that the federation has the power to detain dangerous criminals, to which Justice Sajjad Ali Shah said that Sheikh had already been illegally detained for a month.
"The court cannot legalise your illegal actions," Justice Shah told the attorney-general.
Justice Akhtar said it was not the dark ages that an accused should remain in jail even after 18 years, while Justice Shah said that the face of the body was not visible in the video of Del Pearl's murder.
In 2002, Pearl went missing after leaving his hotel for a meeting he was told was with the leader of a terror group. Days later, his kidnappers released images of him alongside a list of demands from the US that included the freeing of Pakist citizens held during the US's so-called "war on terror".
Less than a month later, a video was released showing Pearl being beheaded. Sheikh and his alleged accomplices had been arrested weeks earlier. Pearl's body was found by authorities in May that year.
Sheikh, who was arrested in 2002 and convicted later that year, has already served his seven-year sentence on the kidnapping charge, according to Al Jazeera.
( With inputs from ANI )
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