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Pearl Trial Postponed for 10 Days

April 13, 2002|From Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan — Opening arguments in the trial of four men accused in the kidnapping and slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl were postponed for more than a week, attorneys for both sides said Friday.

Chief prosecutor Raja Qureshi said the delay was to meet legal requirements for trying in absentia seven other suspects who remain at large. Journalists were again barred from the half-hour proceeding, which took place inside Karachi's central jail.

British-born Islamic militant Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, 28, and three co-defendants are in custody, charged with murder, kidnapping and terrorism. They face the death penalty if convicted.

During the session, Judge Arshad Noor Khan scheduled the entering of pleas and opening statements for April 22 after police said they could not find the seven other suspects, Qureshi said.

Khan formally declared them fugitives, paving the way for them to be tried in absentia along with the four others. However, Pakistani law requires a delay of at least a week before proceedings against the seven can be started.

Pearl disappeared Jan. 23 on his way to meet an Islamic militant contact, allegedly Sheikh.

A videotape received by U.S. diplomats in Pakistan on Feb. 21 confirmed that Pearl, 38, was dead.

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