Backlash feared on sentencing for Pearl murder


Fearing a violent backlash if a guilty verdict is handed down tomorrow in the Daniel Pearl murder trial, Pakistan authorities have deployed unprecedented security in this southern city where the verdict will be announced.

"We are taking extraordinary security measures to an extent that have never ever been taken in the history of Hyderabad," Abdul Rauf Yusufzai, Additional Inspector General of the city said.

The trial of four men accused of kidnapping and murdering US reporter Pearl began in the violence-hit port city of Karachi on April 22th, but was moved on April 30th to a prison here in Hyderabad, 160 kilometres to the north-east.

Security was also beefed up in Karachi, from where Pearl was abducted on January 23rd.

Investigators said they were anticipating a guilty verdict for chief suspect Sheikh Omar on abduction charges, which carries the death penalty that prosecutors are seeking.

The absence of any confirmed body has, however, dimmed the prospects of a murder conviction.

Police did discover body parts believed to be Pearl's in Karachi on May 17th, but DNA tests have yet to be announced.