.contact us |.about us
Home BizChina Newsphoto Cartoon LanguageTips Metrolife DragonKids SMS Edu
news... ...
             Focus on... ...

Pakistan refuses to extradite Pearl murder suspect
( 2002-02-28 10:24 ) (7 )

Pakistan is refusing to hand over to the United States the British-born former public schoolboy accused of masterminding the kidnap and murder of Daniel Pearl.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, 28, could face the death penalty if he was sent to America, but Pakistani officials are determined to put him on trial before considering US President Bush's personal plea to extradite him.

Wendy Chamberlin, the US Ambassador, met President Musharraf on Wednesday to press America's demand. She left empty-handed, but said that she was not disappointed.

As the diplomatic wrangling continued, Omar Sheikh was brought to a court in Karachi with his hands manacled and his head covered in a white hood. The 6ft 3in former schoolboy chess champion, who has stubbornly refused to help police trying to find Mr Pearl's body and those who filmed his death, towered over his captors.

One reason Pakistan is holding on to Omar Sheikh is that its police want to question him further about his terrorist links.

His brief court appearance yesterday was to allow a witness to identify the former London School of Economics student as the man who had met Pearl in a restaurant, leading to his abduction on January 23. During the hearing in a judge's chambers, Omar Sheikh was not allowed to see the witness, whose identity was kept secret for his own safety. He had arrived at the court in a convoy of vehicles with dozens of policemen carrying assault rifles.

Lawyers for Omar Sheikh say that Britain should intervene to ensure that he is not flown to the United States, where they fear he will be executed. Last night the Foreign Office said that his family had not asked it to intervene, nor had Omar Sheikh requested its help.

British diplomats in Islamabad would not say if they had been in contact with American officials over Omar Sheikh's fate.

A Pakistani government spokesman said: "We have received a request for the extradition of Sheikh Omar from the United States. Omar is a British citizen and it was in that context that the request was made. Although there is no formal extradition treaty between the United States and Pakistan, there are two precedents when Pakistan extradited terrorists wanted by the US."

The official was referring to suspects in the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the headquarters of the CIA in Washington.

Washington had been hoping to use a colonial agreement from 1931, when Pakistan was under British control, to extradite their suspect.

The chief law officer handling the investigation into Pearl's murder gave a warning that suspects not directly involved in the killing could also face the death penalty. Raja Qureshi, the Advocate-General of Sindh Province, said that those who sent e-mail ransom demands or financed the kidnapping could be hanged.

Defence lawyers for three men arrested as part of Omar Sheikh's Islamic group said last night that he would prefer them to face an American court as they would get a "fairer trial there than in Pakistan".

The widow of the Wall Street Journal reporter spoke yesterday about her loss and called for a new initiative by all governments to combat terrorism. Mariane Pearl, who is seven months pregnant, said she would tell their son that his father had been a hero.

She also praised the Pakistani police, who have been criticised by the FBI and others for their handling of the search for Pearl. "I know they feel bad, ashamed, sad about what happened.

ˇ°The people who have been actually around me during all this ordeal and terrible time, the Pakistani investigators, have been people of heart and tremendous professionalism. That has meant a lot to me."

Looking exhausted, Mrs Pearl said that she had also received tremendous support from the Pakistani people.

Osama bin Laden may have been conned into thinking that he had weapons-grade uranium to use in a nuclear attack, The New York Times said. In fact, American officials in Washington said, al-Qaeda may have been duped by black-market weapons swindlers, who sold them crude containers painted with skulls and crossbones dipped, perhaps, in medical waste to fool a Geiger counter.

ˇ°We did not find any type of serious radiological material," one Pentagon official said. "The stuff we found in Afghanistan was not the real stuff. They were swindled, like a lot of other people."



        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved