The Sindh High Court (SHC) has on Thursday declared the notification of detention of four suspects including Ahmad Omar Sheikh as null and void in the American journalist Daniel Pearl murder case.

The SHC conducted hearing on a petition challenging detention of the accused despite their release orders. The court directed to free the suspects and put them on the exit control list (ECL).

The SHC said the accused have been imprisoned for eighteen years without any crime and ordered them to appear before the court when summoned. The assistant attorney general told that the provincial government holds the detention authority.

It is pertinent here to mention that the Sindh Home Department had kept the suspects under detention on September 28 after the SHC had ordered to release them.

Daniel Pearl, 38, a Wall Street Journalist working in Pakistan, was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while doing a research on religious extremism. Later, a video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US Consulate after a month of his abduction. Subsequently, Sheikh, the prime suspect, was arrested in 2002 and later sentenced to death by a Hyderabad anti-terrorism court while the three other men were sentenced to life imprisonment for helping him.

But on April 2 this year, the SHC modified Sheikh's sentence to seven years after acquitting him for the journalist's murder and convicting him for a role in the kidnapping only. The high court also acquitted the three other accused.