KARACHI, July 17: The three co-accused of Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, who were given life term for complicity in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, filed a joint appeal, challenging the judgment of the trial court in the Sindh High Court on Wednesday.

Rai Bashir Ahmad, advocate, filed the appeal on behalf of Fahad Nasim, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Mohammmad Adil just a day after the state moved the court for enhancement of their sentence from life term to death.

“There is not even a single piece of evidence against the appellants to prove the offence in which they have been convicted, hence the judgment be set aside,” said Rai Bashir after filing the appeal.

The counsel said the trial court had adopted “pick and choose” method and had considered only those points “which were favourable to the prosecution.”

“The prosecution has failed to connect the appellants with the movement for the preservation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and relation of the accused with each other, said the counsel.

The counsel has contended in the appeal that neither the complainant, Marriane Pearl, wife of slain Daniel Pearl, nor any other witness appeared before the trial court to prove the contents of the FIR and signature of the complainant on FIR.

“Hence the prosecution case has failed from its very root and foundation,” said counsel Rai Bashir who alleged that “after reading the judgment, I have the impression that it has not been written by the judge but a bureaucrat”.

Salman Saqib, Fahad Nasim and Sheikh Adil were on Monday convicted by an anti-terrorism court at Hyderabad for helping the British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the Wall Street Journal’s correspondent. Sheikh Omar was given death sentence for masterminding the abduction and murder.

Appellant Saquib, Nasim and Adil were sentenced for sending e-mails containing photos of Daniel Pearl in captivity, demanding the release of prisoners, held by the US in Cuba, delivery of F- 16s besides threatening to kill the American journalist.

Adil refused to sign the Vakalatnama, disclosed Rai Bashir, claiming that Adil had done so because “Adil has no faith in the judicial system of Pakistan, as it is mainly governed by colonial laws,” Rai Bashir attributed this to Adil’s brother, Sheikh Aslam.

Nevertheless the counsel expressed confidence in the SHC whose image, he said, was good. He was confident of succeeding in the SHC.

An appeal against Omar’s conviction would be filed later in the week, his lawyer Mohsin Imam said.

Judge Syed Ashraf Ali Shah of the anti-terrorism court had found all the four guilty of plotting to kidnap and murder Pearl after Omar met the reporter for an interview at a hotel in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, on Jan 11.

The appellants maintained that they were wrongly convicted by the trial court ATC Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas headed by Syed Ashraf Ali Shah. The trial court has ignored the defence evidence “in toto”, maintained the appellants.

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