Family of journalist Pearl to appeal against freeing of men convicted of his murder

FILE PHOTO: A portrait of the Wall Street Journal's reporter Daniel Pearl stands with a candle at the altar at Fleet Street's journalists chapel St Brides Church prior to a memorial service in London March 5, 2002. REUTERS/Ian Waldie

KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - The family of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan in 2001, plans to appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court to overturn a decision to free the four men convicted of his murder.

A panel of three judges of the court on Thursday threw out the 2002 murder convictions against the four Islamists, including group’s British-born ringleader, Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh.

Kidnapping convictions were left in place, but the men were ordered freed as they had already served out sentences for the kidnapping charges.

The Pearl family “intends to file a review petition against the illegal and unjust majority decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” said a statement issued by the family’s lawyer, Faisal Siddiqui, on Saturday night.

On Friday, Pakistan’s provincial Sindh government also filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to review its decision. A hearing for that appeal has been set for Monday.

The United States has expressed concern over the ruling and new U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for accountability in his first phone call with Pakistan’s foreign minister on Friday.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Peter Graff