Militant remanded in custody for killing French engineers
KARACHI: A militant who was sentenced to death in absentia for his part in a 2002 suicide bomb which killed 11 French engineers was remanded in custody by a court on Thursday, a day after he was captured.
Mohammad Sohail arrived in an armoured car with a hood over his head at the courtroom in Karachi where he helped stage the attack outside the Sheraton Hotel nearly three years ago, witnesses said.
Investigators said they suspect the extremist may also have filmed the beheading of the Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl, who was abducted in Karachi in early 2002.
Police said Sohail was detained on Wednesday after falling off a motorbike during a shootout with police in Karachi. Five other militants were said to have escaped. A magistrate at the court remanded him in custody until March 7 after officers said they wanted to question him about his alleged accomplices.
“We will interrogate him about his involvement in terrorist activities and about the others who managed to escape,” police investigator Mohammad Yunus told reporters outside the court.
“Though he has already been sentenced to death in the Sheraton blast case, we want to interrogate him in other cases,” said the police official.
Sohail had his hood removed for the brief hearing and spoke only to confirm his name, witnesses said.
He was one of three militants sentenced in June 2002 by an anti-terrorism court for the car bomb which killed the French naval engineers and three bystanders.
A suicide bomber rammed a Toyota Corolla sedan packed with explosives into a bus as it collected the Frenchmen from their hotel. They were helping Pakistan build its first local-made submarine. A senior police investigator said on condition of anonymity that Sohail was an explosives expert. “He was the one who planted the explosives in the car,” he added.
Police have said that during an initial investigation Sohail had also confessed to a role in the killing of Daniel Pearl, as well as an attempt to assassinate President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003. “He could be the cameraman who made the video of Pearl’s slaying and we are interrogating him,” Karachi police officer Mohammad Fayyaz said late Wednesday. afp