ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Tuesday observed it is difficult to prove a conspiracy but circumstances show that a conspiracy was hatched in the abduction and murder of Daniel Pearl.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, heard the appeals of the Sindh government and Daniel Pearl’s parents against the Sindh High Court (SHC)’s judgment acquitting the alleged murderers of Daniel Pearl.

Justice Yahya Afridi noted that the trial and the SHC did not give findings on the conspiracy hatched, which the prosecution had argued before the apex court.

He said it is very difficult to prove conspiracy, and questioned, can the conspiracy be inferred from the facts and the circumstances?

Advocate Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, contended that the trial and the SHC did not sentence the accused on the basis of conspiracy.

He said conspiracy does exist on the intention, but on the agreement of the two or more persons.

“Each party promises against the promise.”

“Agreement is essential,” he said, and added, “Mere knowledge or discussion of a plan per se is not enough for the conspiracy.”

Mehmood A Sheikh said it’s a high-profile case and the appeals against the SHC’s judgment have been filed against the acquittal.

He said a contingent of the FBI descended in the country and Pakistani police was under immense pressure, therefore, they resorted to rough tactics to get the false confession. The police had to show they arrested the accused and obtained confession, he added.

 The defence counsel said that the burden is on the prosecution to prove the case beyond a shadow of doubt.

He put the question before the court that can someone’s life be taken on mere conjecture and surmises.

The prosecution produced perjured and fabricated evidence before the court.

The infirmity in the prosecution case goes in the favour of the accused, said the lawyer.

The SHC on December 24, 2020, set aside the provincial government’s detention order of four men, which it had ordered eight months ago to set them free.

A division bench of the SHC, Karachi, on 2nd April 2020 acquitted the accused, Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh, Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib, and Fahad Nasim.

It also held that the subject case does not fall within the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and Omer Sheikh is entitled to both remissions in accordance with the law and the benefit of Section 382-B, Criminal Procedure Code, 1898.

Trial Court on 15-07-2002 had convicted Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh and awarded him death sentence, while Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim were given life imprisonment under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

Despite the SHC order dated 24-12-2020, the chief secretary government of Sindh, Additional Chief Secretary Home Department, Sindh, Senior Superintendent Central Jail, Karachi, and Senior Superintendent Central Jail Sukkur refused to release the accused albeit the direction in the said order lapsed on 07-10-2020, and was never extended thereafter, submitted the counsel.

He informed that the Senior Superintendent Central Jail Karachi has in this regard sent a letter to the apex court seeking instructions whether this Court has extended the detention of the accused.

Faisal Siddiqui, counsel of Daniel’ parents, earlier argued that the court has to keep in mind the facts and circumstances while rendering the judgment.

He said the counsels, witnesses and even judges were threatened, therefore, the case was shifted from the Anti-Terrorism Court Karachi to ATC Hyderabad.

He said though an accused in the criminal justice system is considered the favourite child of the court, and the victims as the neglected children.

He said in this case, the court has to maintain a balance.

The persons involved in the heinous crime should not be let off the hook.

The case was adjourned until today (Wednesday).—TERENCE J SIGAMONY