The Associated Press
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) -- The alleged mastermind of the kidnapping of
Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was charged with murder in a
Pakistani anti-terrorism court Friday, along with 10 accomplices.
Chief prosecutor Raja Quereshi presented the charges amid unprecedented
security, with 100 armed police officers ringing the courthouse.
The indictment accuses Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other Islamic
militants who are in custody of murder, kidnapping and terrorism in Pearl's
death. Seven other suspects who remain at large face the same charges.
Saeed and alleged accomplice Sheikh Mohammed Adeel were escorted to the
court by two dozen armored personnel carriers mounted with machine guns.
other two suspects in custody, Fahad Naseem and Salman Saqib, were not
The court was scheduled to convene again March 29, when a judge is
expected to decide whether there's enough evidence to accept the charges.
Once that step is taken, a trial would begin immediately.
Saeed, a British-educated Islamic militant, is the key suspect in the
Jan. 23 kidnapping in the southern port city of Karachi.
He confessed in court last month that he abducted Pearl, but has since
withdrawn the statement, which was not made under oath and is considered
The case against Saeed relies heavily on the testimony of taxi driver
Nasir Abbas, who told police he drove Pearl to a restaurant and saw him
shake hands with Saeed before getting into a car with him.
Other evidence includes e-mailed photographs of Pearl in chains. The
e-mail was traced to the three other defendants in custody.
A videotape received by the U.S. Consulate in Karachi in February proved
Pearl had been murdered.
"We have circumstantial evidence and also the videotape of Daniel Pearl's
murder," Quereshi told reporters after presenting the charges. "We will
present that too, as evidence."
Two of the suspects, Naseem and Saqib, also have submitted confessions
implicating Saeed in the plot. Their lawyer said Thursday that he would
to have the confessions blocked.
The United States also intends to prosecute Saeed, but Pakistan has
insisted proceedings must be completed here first.
A U.S. federal grand jury in New Jersey indicted Saeed in the Pearl case
on March 14. Since the kidnapping resulted in the reporter's murder, Saeed
could face the death penalty in the United States.
The U.S. indictment alleges Saeed trained at Afghan military camps and
fought with Taliban and al-Qaida fighters last September and October, at
start of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.
Pearl, South Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped
when examining links between Pakistani extremists and so-called shoe bomber
Richard C. Reid, who was arrested in December on a Paris-Miami flight he
allegedly boarded with explosives in his sneakers.