Suspects Tell Police of Journey
by Afzal Nadeem, Associated Press
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) - The route was convoluted and involved a change
of vehicles and planned rendezvous points. American reporter Daniel Pearl
appeared calm throughout, apparently accepting the subterfuge as security
demanded by the source he had gone to meet, according to new details about
his abduction and murder.
Pearl, the Wall Street Journal's South Asia correspondent, disappeared
Jan. 23 in Karachi while researching links between Pakistani militants and
Richard C. Reid, a Briton arrested in December on a Paris-Miami flight,
allegedly with explosives in his shoe.
The 38-year-old Pearl was picked up by a taxi on a street outside a
restaurant near the Metropole Hotel and driven to Banaras Chowk, a western
neighborhood of Karachi, sources close to the investigation on Wednesday
quoted three suspects in custody as telling police investigators.
From there, he was taken in a 16-seat van to a house in Orangi town,
on the western edge of Karachi.
During the three- to four-hour trip from the hotel to the house, "he
not resist. He went with them calmly," the sources said. "When they took
to a home, he asked, 'Where is the man I wanted to meet?' "
Pearl's captors tied him up with rope and kept him in the house for 24
hours. The following night they took him to Gadap, a neighborhood about
miles from the center of Karachi, the sources said.
The new detainees have provided valuable details about Pearl's final
hours. Previously, all that had come out was the court testimony of a taxi
driver who said he took Pearl to a Jan. 23 rendezvous with Muslim militants
and that he saw him get into another car.
Last Friday, dismembered remains, including a severed head, were
unearthed in Gadap near a blood-splattered shack where authorities believe
Pearl was held. Police were led to the area by the three suspects, whom
Pakistan television identified as members of a radical Muslim group,
Lashkar-e-Janghvi, with links to al-Qaida.
However, police have not yet charged them in the Pearl case, for fear
influencing the trial already under way of four Islamic militants, said
officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The militants, including chief suspect Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, have
pleaded innocent to Pearl's kidnapping and murder. Their trial, which began
April 22, hit a potential hurdle with the recent discovery of a body
believed to be Pearl's.
Prosecutors have been trying to speed up the trial because if DNA tests
confirm it is the American journalist, and if new suspects are charged as
result, they may be forced to call a retrial.
The results of DNA tests on hair and blood samples taken from the body
are not expected for a week.
On Wednesday, prosecutors fumed over what they called the defense's
"delaying tactics." The trial is adjourned until Monday, when the
prosecution plans to call two senior police officials as witnesses.
Pearl's widow, Mariane Pearl, a free-lance journalist now living in
Paris, has agreed to testify after her baby's birth, expected around June
her attorney, M. Jamil, said Wednesday.
As the chief complainant in the case, she is required by Pakistani law
Defense attorneys, characterizing Mariane Pearl's testimony as key,
pushed to have the trial postponed until she can take the stand.
"Unless the deposition of (Mariane Pearl) is taken, there is nothing
in the case," said defense attorney Mohsin Imam said. "We've got to have
deposition. That's the most important thing."
On Wednesday, Chief Prosecutor Raja Quereshi criticized the defense's
insistence on Pearl's testimony.
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"It appears that the defense has now resorted to delaying tactics to
avoid further proceedings," he said.