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Suspects in Pearl Death Remain in Custody


A court in Pakistan has ordered the alleged ringleader in the kidnapping and murder of reporter Daniel Pearl held for another 14 days.

In a brief hearing in Karachi, a judge granted a prosecution request for the continued detention of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and two other men implicated the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Prosecution attorney Raja Qureshi said the government needs the additional time to further build its case and to recover Mr. Pearl's body.

All three men were brought to the court for the closed-door hearing with their heads covered in white hoods.

Mr. Pearl was abducted January 23 in Karachi by men believed to be Islamic radicals. Late Thursday, a gruesome videotape was delivered to police showing Mr. Pearl's mutilated body.

The lead defendant, known as Sheikh Omar, confessed to his primary role in the kidnapping during a court hearing February 14. But that confession is not admissible under Pakistani law, since he was not under oath when he made it.

The other two men are accused of sending the e-mails showing Mr. Pearl in captivity. A fourth suspect has also been ordered held for an additional 14 days.

Sheikh Omar declined to repeat his confession. Attorneys for the other men said they had all been coerced by police into signing confessions. Prosecutor Qureshi said none of the suspects have complained of ill-treatment.

All four of the men currently in custody were captured or voluntarily surrendered before the grisly videotape surfaced. It is not known when Mr. Pearl was actually killed.

Monday, prosecutors gave the court the names of another 11 people whom investigators believe had a role in Mr. Pearl's kidnapping and murder.

Mr. Pearl was investigating the shadowy world of Islamic militants in Pakistan when he was kidnapped. He was abducted while on a rendezvous with someone who purported to have evidence of ties between Pakistani militants and the man who had tried to detonate a bomb during a flight from Paris to Miami.

Sheikh Omar spent more than five years in an Indian jail for kidnapping three British and one American tourist. He was later released in exchange for passengers of an Indian airlines flight that was hijacked from Nepal to Afghanistan.

Investigators have spread their net wider in the belief that there may be a link between Mr. Pearl's murderers and the al-Qaida terrorist network. Officials have said many of the men involved in the kidnapping were supporters of the Taleban and are known to have spent some time in Afghanistan. The Taleban supplied safe haven to al-Qaida until their ouster by the U.S.-led coalition last year.

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