Recording of witnesses’ statements in Imran Farooq murder case deferred

Updated January 14, 2020

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ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand was supposed to record the testimony of the prosecution witnesses via video link from the UK. — AFP/File
ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand was supposed to record the testimony of the prosecution witnesses via video link from the UK. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Monday deferred recording of the statements of British witnesses in Dr Imran Farooq murder case on the request of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand was supposed to record testimony of the prosecution witnesses through a video link from the UK.

However, when the proceedings started, FIA’s special prosecutor Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed contended before the court that the British witnesses were not ready to testify and sought time for making arrangements for recording their statements through a video link from the UK.

When the court asked when the witnesses would be ready to record their statements, Mr Ahmed said it would take a month.

Subsequently, the court adjourned the proceedings to Feb 17.

FIA informs ATC that British witnesses are not ready to record statements through video link

Last year, the UK government had consented to the recording of 23 British witnesses, three investigators and the others experts and eyewitnesses before the ATC.

The ATC has recorded statements of three investigators who were custodian of the record related to the murder of the senior MQM leader in London in 2010. They have produced original evidence before the judge.

Among the evidence Pakistan received from the UK Central Authority is the CCTV footage of the murder incident, forensic and postmortem reports, a recovery memo, statements of the investigation officer and 23 witnesses.

In 2018, Islamabad High Court had directed the ATC to conclude the trial by October. However, the prosecution repeatedly requested the court for extension of the deadline since the British government was reluctant to share evidence fearing that the accused may get death sentence if convicted.

Two suspects - Khalid Shamim and Syed Mohsin Ali - have recorded their confessional statements before a magistrate, saying 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 they had recorded it under coercion.

Another suspect, Moazzam Ali, has not yet recorded his statement in the case.

The ATC indicted the accused under various sections of 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 chief and other leaders for their alleged involvement in the murder.

Dr Farooq, a senior leader of the MQM, was murdered outside his home in London in 2010.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020