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Pakistan Vows To Appeal Acquittal Of Suspects In Daniel Pearl Murder

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the alleged mastermind behind Daniel Pearl's abduction, arrives at a court in Karachi on March 29, 2002.

Pakistan's foreign minister says the government in Islamabad will file an appeal against a court decision overturning the conviction of the British-born Islamic militant accused murdering Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

"It has been decided to file an appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a statement on April 4.

Washington has expressed concerns about the decision, which Qureshi said was "natural."

"It is now up to the court either to dismiss or [uphold] the appeal," Qureshi said.

The provincial government in Pakistan's Sindh Province on April 3 ordered British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three others connected to Pearl's brutal murder to remain in custody for at least three months on "public safety" grounds following Sheikh's April 2 acquittal by the High Court of Sindh Province.

The court also overturned a death sentence issued against Sheikh for the killing.

Defense lawyer Khawja Naveed said that, in handing down the decision, the court reduced Sheikh's sentence to seven years in prison for kidnapping, in what international media-freedom watchdogs called a "denial of justice."

The United States said the decision was an "affront to victims of terrorism."

Pearl was The Wall Street Journal's South Asia bureau chief when he was abducted and beheaded in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants.

A video showing Pearl's decapitation was delivered to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi nearly a month later.

Sheikh, a former student at the London School of Economics, had been arrested in 2002 and sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court, while three other defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Naveed said those three had been acquitted by the court in its April 2 ruling.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and Geo TV
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