A Pakistani court sparked US outrage on Thursday after it overturned the death sentence of British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, as well as the convictions of three alleged accomplices in the 2002 murder.

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (C) and fellow suspect Sheikh Adil (L) are surrounded by armed police as they leave a court in Karachi on March 29, 2002.
British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (C) and fellow suspect Sheikh Adil (L) are surrounded by armed police as they leave a court in Karachi on March 29, 2002. (Reuters Archive)

Four men acquitted in the kidnapping and killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan have been rearrested and will stay in jail while prosecutors appeal the ruling, officials said.

A Pakistani court sparked US outrage on Thursday after it overturned the death sentence of British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, as well as the convictions of three alleged accomplices in the 2002 murder.

Pakistan's interior ministry said late Friday the four would remain in jail while prosecutors appeal their acquittals in the country's Supreme Court.

'Due process'

The men have been rearrested and will be detained "for a period of three months pending filing of the appeal", the interior ministry said.

The statement reiterated the government's "commitment to follow due process under the laws of the country to bring terrorists to task".

Pearl, 38, was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about militants.

A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later.

'Affront to victims'

Alice Wells, the top US diplomat for South Asia, called the overturning of the sentences "an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere".

She welcomed Friday's decision to appeal.

"Those responsible for Daniel's heinous kidnapping and murder must face the full measure of justice," Wells wrote on Twitter.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that the US would not forget Pearl.

"We continue to honour his legacy as a courageous journalist and demand justice for his brutal murder," Pompeo said.

Pearl's killing provoked international revulsion at the time, putting pressure on Pakistan's then military government just as it was trying to remake its image following years of backing for the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Source: AFP