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Musharraf Wants Pearl's Killer Tried in Pakistan - 2002-05-04

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said that the killers of American journalist Daniel Pearl must face punishment in Pakistan. The United States is seeking extradition of, Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the prime suspect in the high-profile case.

President Musharraf said he will resist any U.S. pressure for the extradition of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamic militant best known as Sheikh Omar. The Pakistani leader told reporters in Islamabad Saturday that Sheikh Omar will be tried and sentenced in Pakistan. General Musharraf said this is because he wants to set an example for those defying his crackdown on terrorism and religious violence.

"He [Sheikh Omar] has done a heinous act here in Pakistan. He must be punished here in Pakistan. Because, we are acting against terrorism here in Pakistan and we want to move very strongly against anyone. I want the people of Pakistan to also know that we will move strongly against terrorism and we have the capability," General Musharraf said.

Sheikh Omar and three alleged Pakistani accomplices have been charged with kidnapping and murdering American reporter Daniel Pearl. They are being tried under Pakistan's anti-terrorism law and could be sentenced to death if found guilty. All four have pleaded innocent to the charges against them.

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted in the southern city of Karachi while trying to contact Pakistani militants linked to the Al-Qaida terrorist network. Mr. Pearl's death was confirmed a month later in a videotape showing his murder. His body has yet to be found.

An anti-terrorism court within the walls of the central prison in Karachi was conducting the trial of those accused of killing Mr. Pearl. But the trial was transferred to the city of Hyderabad because of prosecution allegations that the venue in Karachi could be attacked.

On Saturday, defense lawyers filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the transfer that was ordered by a lower provincial court. They argue that shifting the trial is against the prevailing laws in Pakistan.