LONDON: Muhammad Gohir Khan made multiple attempts to reach Rotterdam, and even bought a paring knife during his visit to the Netherlands as he scouted the home and location of exiled blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya.
Khan also repeatedly asked a middleman in Pakistan — said to be the individual who allegedly hired the defendant for the murder plot — for more information on the identity and whereabouts of the blogger.
On the second day of the trial in which Khan has been charged with conspiracy to murder, the prosecution again made its case to the jury that the defendant intended to kill Goraya. Khan has pleaded not guilty and said he wanted to take the cash — about GBP 80,000 of which an advance of GBP 5,000 was paid — but that he did not intend to kill the blogger.
Covid curbs in Europe created hurdles in free movement of defendant
The trial has revealed chilling details of Khan’s discussions with a Pakistan-based middleman identified through phone messages as Mudz, Zed or Papa. Evidence provided by the prosecution shows Khan expressing frustration at only having a mugshot and an address and demanding more money. Mudz does not give more information, and insists that “R&D is 75% of the job”.
At one point when he is in Rotterdam, Khan suggests staging a robbery at the blogger’s address after his two stake-outs at the location did not yield information. “If it’s a Paki family how do we know who it is?” the defendant asked Mudz at another instance, when the two discussed talking to neighbours or ringing the doorbell of the victim.
Mudz told Khan he would meet his contact, an unidentified individual who appears to be the one with more information on Goraya, but said not to expect more information.
The prosecution’s case also demonstrated how Covid-19 restrictions in Europe, particularly the Netherlands, thwarted the defendant’s travel plans. Khan obtained bogus PCR tests and a bogus invitation letter purporting to be from a fictitious individual Zubair Khan who the defendant said was his relative.
When he arrived at Schipol airport in Amsterdam, immigration authorities who contacted the so-called Zubair Khan became suspicious when the person telephoned hung up when asked if they knew how old Khan was. Khan was then denied entry, and returned to the UK. He later travelled to Paris by train, and then took a bus from there to Rotterdam, where the intended victim lives.
The prosecution also demonstrated to the jury that Mudz and the defendant discussed the need for a weapon. Though Mudz said no tool was required as the target was “a baby not a shark”, Khan said the tool would be purchased in the Netherlands.
Mudz said it was impossible to travel with a ‘tool’ from the UK to the Netherlands. “You’ve been watching too many action movies,” he told the defendant. Mudz emphasised that as far as he understood, a weapon of that size is not required to take out this particular target.
Khan said that without a tool it would be “more mess”.
The prosecution maintained that Khan purchased a paring knife of 19cm from a store close to Goraya’s home, and raised the question of why the defendant would purchase a knife like that if he did not intend to go ahead with the killing.
The trial is expected to continue till Feb 1.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022