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Security Tight as Pearl Trial Begins, Adjourns in Pakistan

April 05, 2002|From Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan — Scores of police armed with assault rifles patrolled outside the gates of this city's jailhouse as the trial began today for a British-born Islamic militant and three others in the kidnap-slaying of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl.

But the trial quickly adjourned for a week after the lawyer for Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh demanded more documents from the government.

The attorney asked the government to hand over copies of e-mails and photos sent to authorities announcing Pearl's abduction, another defense lawyer said.

Inside Karachi Central Jail, said senior jail officials speaking on condition of anonymity, Sheikh, 29, and his three co-defendants went on trial on charges of murder, kidnapping and terrorism. All four face the death penalty if convicted.

Relatives of the men were allowed to enter the courtroom, but journalists were kept out.

Pearl disappeared Jan. 23 while researching Pakistani extremists. A few days later, the previously unknown National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty announced his kidnapping.

A videotape received by U.S. diplomats Feb. 21 showed Pearl had been killed. His body has not been found. FBI agents traced the e-mails to one of the defendants, Fahad Naseem, who identified Saeed as the mastermind.

None of the four defendants--who also include Salman Saquib and Sheikh Mohammed Adeel--was believed to have been holding Pearl or to have killed him.

Seven suspects remain at large.

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