ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government quietly moved a bill in the National Assembly that would expedite the otherwise stalled trial of the accused involved in the murder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Dr Imran Farooq as it would pave the way for collecting evidence from the British government.
Although it was a private bill introduced by PTI’s Mehboob Shah that excludes death penalty in the case where the evidence is brought from foreign jurisdiction, the state’s prosecution had about a couple of months back assured the Islamabad High Court of such legislation.
Earlier, the high court had directed the anti-terrorism court of Islamabad to conclude the much-delayed trial by October 2018. However, the Federal Investigation Agency repeatedly requested the court for extension of the time frame as the British government was reluctant to share the evidence related to the murder, fearing that the accused might get the death sentence if convicted.
The British government was not handing over the evidence to Pakistan under the Mutual Legal Assistance as the European laws did not permit sharing of evidence with a country where the offence was punishable by death.
According to sources, the evidence in question includes a certified post-mortem report, death certificate, witness statements, murder weapons, clothes, etc.
Proposed law to exclude death penalty in Imran Farooq murder case
The British government was then assured that the accused would not be handed down the death penalty and, according to special prosecutor Khawaja Imtiaz, the government is going to amend the Pakistan Penal Code to give this ‘immunity’ a legal cover.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Imtiaz said that the prosecution had given its input in drafting of this bill since it was purely a legal matter.
According to him, it does not matter if the bill is tabled by the government or a private member since it is parliament which would adopt it.
The bill, seeking an amendment to the PPC, called for exclusion of the death penalty to those extradited from other countries or in those criminal cases where the evidence is collected from foreign jurisdiction.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons attached to the bill states: “Transnational organised crimes required collection of evidences from several countries. The available tool of mutual legal assistance does not bear fruit as the request under this arrangement is not entertained on the ground of apprehension regarding award of death penalty. It is, therefore, necessary to amend the PPC by excluding the death penalty.’’
Dr Imran Farooq was murdered outside his home in London in 2010.
Suspects Khalid Shamim and Syed Mohsin Ali have recorded their confessional statements before a magistrate, saying that Dr Farooq was killed because he was a “potent threat to the leadership of the MQM”. However, recently, these suspects have backtracked from their confessional statements, saying that they recorded the previous statement under coercion.
Another suspect, Moazzam Ali, did not record his confessional statement in the case.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2019