Court overturns conviction in killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl

The Central Jail where Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh is on death row in India on Feb 12 2016

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday acquitted three persons accused of being involved in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl back in 2002.

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who has been in prison since 2002, has had his sentence reduced to seven years, his lawyer told reporters.

Mohammed - better known as KSM - was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and is being held in Guantanamo Bay. A USA psychologist who interviewed KSM said the prisoner had told him that he had beheaded Pearl.

Naveed said Sheikh could go free unless the government chooses to challenge the court decision.

"We will go through the court order once it is issued, we will probably file an appeal", Faiz Shah, the provincial prosecutor general, told Reuters by telephone.

Pearl, a U.S. national and the South Asian bureau chief of American publication The Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped on January 23, 2002, in Karachi and later beheaded by his captors when their demands regarding his release were not met. Saeed had spent 18 years in prison in southern Hyderabad on death row. It was expected that the seven-year sentence will be counted as time served, said Naveed.

The court also acquitted three others - Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil, and Salman Saqib - who were accused in the case and had been sentenced to life in prison.

The defendants were also collectively fined 32,000 dollars.

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"Justice has been done to my clients", said Naveed.

Saeed, a former student at the London School of Economics, and the others were convicted in 2002.

A group of USA journalists, including former colleagues of Pearl, said in 2011 that they believed Sheikh had not carried out the beheading. He had been beheaded. Marianne Pearl gave birth to their son Adam in May 2002.

Sheikh was convicted shortly afterwards by an anti-terrorism court, but there have always been questions over the case.

Soon after Pearl disappeared, Pakistani and US news organizations received emails from the previously unknown National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. "I think pressure will come on Pakistan (after this verdict)", said Amir Rana, director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank that monitors anti-terrorism policies in Pakistan. The statement was ruled inadmissible because it was not made under oath.

He was arrested in India in the 1990s for his involvement in the kidnapping of Western tourists in 1994 as part of Sheikh's support of Muslim separatists battling Indian security forces in the disputed Kashmir region.

On February 12, Pakistani police arrested Saeed in Lahore, in connection with the Pearl kidnapping.

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