British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, accused of plotting Pearl’s abduction and murder, was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. Three other men — Salman Saqib, Fahad Naseem and Shaikh Adil — were found guilty and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for helping Saeed execute his plan.
All four men pleaded not guilty to the charges; defense attorneys said they would appeal the verdict.
“There was no evidence to substantiate the charges,” defense attorney Ria Bashir said. “The strategy of the Pakistani government is to please America even if Americans are crushing the Muslims.”
Judge Ali Ashraf Shah handed down the verdict Monday morning from a special anti-terror court in a heavily guarded prison in Hyderabad, Pakistan. Shah, who presided over the three-month long trial, was the only judge to decide the case. No jury was present during the trial.
Chief Prosecutor Raja Quereshi said the defendants were also collectively fined $32,000, which will go to Pearl’s widow, Mariane, and their infant son, who was born shortly after his father was killed.
The Pearl family said they were “grateful for the tireless efforts by authorities in Pakistan and the United States to bring those guilty of Danny’s kidnapping and murder to justice,” according to a statement posted on the Daniel Pearl Foundation’s web site.
Seven other suspects, including those who allegedly helped murder Pearl, remain at large.
Pearl disappeared Jan. 23 in Karachi, Pakistan while he was researching possible links between militant groups and Richard Reid, who was arrested in December for allegedly trying to detonate explosives in his shoes aboard a commercial flight from Paris to Miami. Pearl’s death was confirmed in February when U.S. diplomats received a videotape depicting Pearl’s grisly murder. Pakistani police in Karachi later found remains believed to be Pearl’s, but final DNA tests are still pending.