A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a British-born Islamist militant convicted of beheading a US journalist in 2002.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, of Wanstead, in east London, UK, was found guilty of the abduction and murder of south Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pearl, in 2002.
Pearl, 38, disappeared in Karachi, the capital of Pakistan, on January 23 of the same year.
Sheikh was expected to be released – though that court ruling had not yet passed – but instead Sheikh’s sentence was reduced to seven years, according to defense lawyer Khawja Naveed.
Daniel Pearl, 38, was abducted, his throat cut and then he was beheaded, before the footage was sent to the American Embassy
This 2002 photo shows a bound Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl held in captivity before his brutal execution
Sheikh was convicted for Pearl’s murder with three other men, who are from Pakistan.
They are Sheikh Adil, 35, Fahad Naseem, 23, and Salman Saquib, 25 – all given life.
Sheikh, however, received a death sentence after being found the ringleader.
Before being beheaded, Pearl was forced to say: ‘I am a Jew.’
Video footage of his murder was subsequently sent to the American Embassy.
Pearl had been researching a story about Islamist militants at the time.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh arriving at court in Karachi in Pakistan in 2002 under police guard
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh being led away from the Karachi court, in 2002, in handcuffs
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh seen here emerging from an armed car with two other suspects, all covered and bound for court, in February 2002
However, in January of 2011, a report published by the ‘Pearl Project’ of Georgetown University, following an investigation of Pearl’s killing, suggested the wrong people had been convicted.
In addition to Sheikh’s overturned death sentence and jail time reduction, the three other men were also acquitted, according to DW News.
It had been led by Asra Nomani, a friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague of Pearl’s.
Nomani had been helped in the investigation by a Georgetown University professor.
Dr Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl, speaking about his son in Miami Beach, Florida, in 2007
The investigation made claims Pearl had been killed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is alleged to have orchestrated the September 11 attacks in 2001, and not Sheikh.
Mohammed, also known as KSM, is currently being held in Guantanamo Bay, a US military prison in Cuba, following his arrest in Pakistan in 2003.
An American psychologist who talked to Mohammed said he had confessed to beheading Pearl, according to AFP.