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Defense Lawyer Asks Judge to Overturn Conviction in Pearl Murder Case

In Pakistan, defense lawyers have appealed to a a higher court on behalf of three Islamic militants convicted of murdering American reporter Daniel Pearl. An anti-terrorism court on Monday sentenced the three men to lifetime prison terms for assisting Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Sheikh in the crime. The British-born leader has been sentenced to death by the same court.

Defense lawyer, Rai Bashir, alleges in his appeal that during the trial the judge of the anti-terrorist court considered only those points which were favorable to the prosecution. He has asked the court to overturn the conviction of his clients, accusing the prosecution of framing witnesses and fabricating evidence.

"We are sure that all these pieces of evidence, which have been ignored by the [anti-terrorism] court, those shall be accepted by the learned high court. And I am sure that all these grounds shall be given weight in the high court and definitely the accused shall be acquitted," he said.

Lawyers for British-born Ahmed Omar Sheikh, are expected to appeal against his conviction by Friday. The 28-year-old Islamic militant was sentenced to death by the same anti-terrorism court for planning the murder of Mr. Pearl.

Pakistani prosecutors on Tuesday filed an appeal with the high court asking that the lifetime prison terms for the three co-accused be extended to death sentences. Chief Prosecutor Raja Qureshi argues that all four defendants should receive equal punishment because they are all found guilty of kidnapping and murdering the American reporter. Under Pakistani laws execution is carried out by hanging within the walls of a prison. But that happens after an exhaustive appeals process.

Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl disappeared earlier this year in Karachi, where he was working on a story about Pakistani militants. A video tape received by U.S. diplomats a month later showed that he had been killed.