London, Jan 20(ANI): The Daniel Pearl murder investigation report has raised troubling questions about Pakistan's dysfunctional criminal justice system, and underscored the limits that US officials face in relying on Pakistani authorities.
According to the results of the Pearl Project- an investigation carried out by a team of American journalists and students, and spanning over three years- the four men imprisoned for killing the slain Wall Street Journal reporter did help abduct him, but were not present during his beheading.
The report said they were convicted of murder because Pakistani authorities knowingly relied on perjured testimony and ignored other leads, The Telegraph reports.
According to the report, forensic evidence known as "vein-matching" bolsters the confession of al-Qaeda No. 3 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, to having killed Pearl.
At least 14 of the 27 people involved in abducting and murdering Pearl are thought to remain free, said the report, adding that the four convicts could be released if their appeal is ever heard, because of false and contradictory evidence used in their trial.
38-year-old Pearl was abducted on January 23, 2002, while researching a story on Islamist militancy following the 9/11 attacks. On February 21, 2002, a video of Pearl's killing was delivered to US officials in Pakistan, and his remains were found in a shallow grave on Karachi's outskirts three months later.
Within months of Pearl's disappearance, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh- a British national of Pakistani heritage, and three accomplices were caught, charged, and convicted of murder and kidnapping.
Sheikh, called the abduction's mastermind, was sentenced to death in July 2002, while the three others were given life terms, which in Pakistan usually means 25 years. (ANI)