Islamabad's Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Thursday approved the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) request for recording the statements of 32 British witnesses via video link in the murder case of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Dr Imran Farooq.
ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand presided over the case. FIA prosecutor Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed presented a list of witnesses, which included the wife of the deceased, before the court and requested that the agency be allowed to record their statements via video link.
The defence counsel raised an objection to this. However, the FIA prosecutor argued that the evidence in the case has been acquired through a Mutual Legal Assistance between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
He maintained that arrangements in this regard are already underway. Once these are complete, we can record the statements of witnesses on a daily basis, he argued.
However, the judge voiced reservations over unnecessary inclusions in the list. This prompted the prosecutor to say that unnecessary witnesses will be struck from the list when the time comes.
He maintained that the court's decision will be forwarded to the UK attorney general who will inform the UK Border Agency. The entire process will be done through the ministry of foreign affairs, he said.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the court accepted the request.
On Monday, the head of UK’s investigation team probing the murder case appeared before the ATC and submitted the original record of the case to the judge for perusal.
Detective Chief Inspector of the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Staurt Greenaway informed ATC judge Arjumand that the code name for the case was “Operation HASTOR” and that being the head of the investigation team he had examined all aspects of the incident in order to ascertain the truth.
He testified that all the evidence collected during the course of the investigation was in his custody.
He produced the original map of the crime scene, post-mortem and forensic reports, CCTV footage of the incident, murder weapons, fingerprints of the accused persons, their passports, details of bank accounts, records related to admission of accused Mohsin Ali in the London Academy of Management Sciences (Lams) and his emails.
Farooq, a senior leader of the MQM, was murdered outside his home in London in 2010.
On Dec 5, 2015, the FIA registered a case against the MQM founder and other party leaders for their alleged involvement in his murder.
The trial of the murder suspects has been standstill since last year as the prosecution case was stuck up because of non-availability of evidence.
Last year, the Islamabad High Court had directed the trial court to conclude the much-delayed trial by October 2018. However, the prosecution of the FIA repeatedly requested the court to extend 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. European laws do not permit the sharing of evidence with a country where the offence was punishable by death.