Pakistani court sacks Pearl killing case judge

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A court in Pakistan removed the judge yesterday who was to hear the case against the Islamic militant alleged to have planned the kidnap and murder of the American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Three days before opening statements were due to be heard, the lawyer for Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh requested the removal of Judge Arshad Noor Khan because the judge heard Mr Saeed admit his role in the crime at a court appearance on 14 February.

The comments were not made under oath and are considered inadmissible, but the lawyer asked the Sindh Province High Court to remove the judge because he could be called as a witness.

The prosecutor Raja Quereshi said he still expected a new judge to be appointed in time to hear opening statements and the entering of pleas on Monday morning. Mr Quereshi did not challenge the request, saying he wanted to allay the fears of the defence.

Pearl, The Wall Street Journal's South Asia correspondent, disappeared on 23 January. He was later shown being killed in an e-mailed picture.