Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I SAW BRITON LEAD TERROR KIDNAPPING; Taxi Driver Tells of Daniel Pearl Being 'Whisked Away'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I SAW BRITON LEAD TERROR KIDNAPPING; Taxi Driver Tells of Daniel Pearl Being 'Whisked Away'

Article excerpt

A WITNESS told today of seeing a former London public schoolboy luring journalist Daniel Pearl to his death.

Amid high security Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who went to school with England cricket captain Nasser Hussain, was taken under armed guard to a court in Karachi to face trial for the kidnap and murder of the Wall Street Journal correspondent.

A taxi driver told the court that he saw Sheikh "whisk away" Mr Pearl in a white car the day the reporter went missing.

The testimony came after Sheikh and three co-defendants pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping and terrorism.

After entering his plea, Sheikh reiterated his objection to being tried under Pakistan's "British" secular court system and demanded to be tried by an Islamic court. The trial remains closed to journalists and the public.

"He pleaded not guilty and said 'I don't recognise this law and I only accept Shariat (Islamic) Law', according to Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, who represents two of Sheikh's codefendants.

Mr Pearl, the Journal's South Asia correspondent, disappeared on 23 January while apparently researching links between Pakistani militants and Richard Reid, the man arrested in December on a Paris-Miami flight with explosives in his shoes.

Taxi driver Nasir Abbas, the only witness called today, testified he picked up Mr Pearl from a house in Karachi that day and drove him to a location outside a hotel. A white car then drove up and Abbas testified that Sheikh "called Pearl and Pearl got into the car, which whisked him away," Naveed said. The trial began under tight security at about 10.45am in the jail where Sheikh, who was also a student at the London School of Economics and attended Forest School, Snaresbrook, and the three others are being held. It was later adjourned until tomorrow.

Police snipers manned positions in guard towers and atop buildings as the judge and prosecutors arrived shortly before proceedings began. …

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