Pakistan arrests 4 men again in Daniel Pearl case

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Pakistani authorities said on Friday that four men had been arrested again for the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl after a court reversed their convictions the day before. The government will appeal its acquittals to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, authorities said.

On Thursday, the Sindh Provincial High Court reversed the murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a high-profile British-born militant accused of planning the kidnapping and murder of Mr. Pearl in 2002. He also returned his death sentence , reducing it to seven years, a measure that would have allowed him to be released for the time served. The convictions of three other men in the murder and terrorism charges were also overturned.

The court decision was widely condemned by US officials and groups of journalists. Welcoming Pakistan's decision to appeal on Friday, a senior State Department official said: "Revocation of the convictions for the murder of Daniel Pearl is an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere."

The official, Alice G. Wells, added: "Those responsible for the atrocious kidnapping and murder of Daniel must face all justice."

The Pakistani Interior Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the men's release was halted after they were arrested again through a measure that allowed the government to detain suspects for three months.

The ministry said it "reiterates its commitment to follow due process under the country's laws to bring terrorists to task."

Authorities said the release of the four men could create a serious problem with law and order.

Mr. Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was abducted and killed in 2002 in the southern port city of Karachi while working on an investigation into the links of militant groups to Al Qaeda.

The Sindh High Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence against Mr. Sheikh in Mr. Pearl's kidnapping, but not his murder.

Pakistani officials said an appeal will be filed next week in the Supreme Court.

US officials have said they believe Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, accused of planning the attacks of September 11, 2001, personally carried out the murder of Mr. Pearl.

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