May 2, 2020 / 3:30 PM / a month ago

U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl's parents challenge freeing of his convicted killers

FILE PHOTO: British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (C) is surrounded by armed police as he leaves a court in Karachi on March 29, 2002. REUTERS/ Zahid Hussein/File Photo

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Slain U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl’s parents have petitioned to the Pakistani Supreme Court seeking to overturn a ruling that freed four men who had been convicted in 2002 of involvement in his killing, their lawyer said on Saturday.

“We’re standing up for justice, not only for our son, but for all our dear friends in Pakistan so they can live in a society free of violence and terrorism,” Pearl’s father Judea said in an emotional video message posted on Twitter.

Their lawyer Faisal Siddiqi told Reuters he had filed the petition on their behalf. A court official said it had yet to be admitted for further proceedings.

“A bare perusal of the entire record would reveal that there was a plethora of incriminating evidence, both forensic as well as oral, which proved that murder was committed and that all the accused persons aided and abetted the murder,” the appeal petition said.

Islamist militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a Briton of Pakistani origin who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding Pearl’s murder, had his sentence commuted last month and three of his aides who had been sentenced to life in prison were acquitted for lack of evidence by a high court in the southern port city of Karachi.

Pakistani authorities however ordered the four to be kept in detention for three months.

The United States denounced the high court ruling, with the top U.S. diplomat for south Asia saying it was “an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere”.

Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl, 38, was kidnapped in January 2002 while investigating Islamist militants in Karachi, capital of the southern Sindh province. He was beheaded some weeks later.

Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by David Holmes

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