ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has finally submitted vital evidence received from the United Kingdom related to the murder case of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Dr Imran Farooq in the anti-terrorism court (ATC). The UK authorities have also agreed to produce British witnesses before the Pakistani court to testify in the murder case.
Among the evidence received from the UK Central Authority are CCTV footage of the murder incident, forensic and post-mortem reports, recovery memo, statements of the investigation officer and 23 witnesses.
The prosecution informed the ATC that out of 23 British witnesses, three would appear before the ATC to testify in this case, whereas the rest would record their statements through the video link facility. These three witnesses are the officials of the Counter Terrorism Command (CTC), or SO15, which is a Specialist Operations branch within London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand will examine the evidence on Friday (today).
MQM leader was stabbed to death in 2010 in London
According to Khawaja Imtiaz, special prosecutor in the Imran Farooq murder case, after receipt of new evidence, the court would decide to reframe charges against the suspects or otherwise.
In September, Toby Cadman, counsel for the Pakistan government, confirmed that following a request for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) to transfer evidence relevant to the murder inquiry into the death of Dr Farooq, the FIA prosecution team received an acceptance letter from the United Kingdom Central Authority confirming the transfer of evidence in the possession of UK authorities.
Initially, the UK authorities did not respond to Pakistan’s request for MLA. The UK government had been reluctant to hand over the evidence to Pakistan since European laws did not permit the sharing of evidence with a country where the offence was punishable by death.
However, the Pakistan government assured the UK government that if convicted, the accused persons would not be given the death penalty and also given assurance of amending the law.
Earlier this month, a member of the National Assembly belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) tabled a bill in the assembly that excludes the death penalty in cases where evidence was brought from a foreign jurisdiction.
The trial of murder suspects has been at a standstill since last year because of non-availability of evidence.
Last year, the Islamabad High Court had directed the ATC of Islamabad to conclude the much-delayed trial by October 2018.
However, the prosecution of the FIA repeatedly requested the court for extension of the deadline since the British government was reluctant to share evidence related to the murder, fearing that the accused might get death sentence if convicted.
Two suspects in the case — Khalid Shamim and Syed Mohsin Ali — have recorded their confessional statements before the 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 statement, saying that they recorded the previous statement under coercion.
Another suspect, Moazzam Ali, has not yet recorded his confessional statement in the case.
The ATC indicted the accused under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997, related to the murder, abetment and hatching a conspiracy to kill.
On Dec 5, 2015, the FIA registered a case against the MQM founder and other party leaders for their alleged involvement in the 2010 murder.
Dr Farooq, a senior leader of the MQM, was murdered outside his home in London in 2010.
Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2019