Cash transfer details emerge in blogger’s murder plot case

Published January 19, 2022
A file photo of Netherlands-based blogger and activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya. — Photo courtesy DW News
A file photo of Netherlands-based blogger and activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya. — Photo courtesy DW News

LONDON: The trial of Mohammad Gohir Khan, the 31-year-old British Pakistani charged with conspiracy to murder the Netherlands-based blogger, Ahmad Waqass Goraya, entered day four on Tuesday when the prosecution came up with further details about the defendant’s communication with a Pakistan-based middleman.

The prosecution’s evidence to the jury once again centered on messages exchanged between the defendant and the middleman who has been identified in the messages as Mudz, Zed, Papa and later by the defendant as Muzamil.

The Crown Prosecution Service alleged that Khan conspired to kill Goraya with Mudz for an agreed sum of money. It also revealed that at the time of his arrest the defendant lived at his home address with his parents, wife and six children.

It appears the middleman holds a British passport. At one point when Khan and Mudz are arguing over Whatsapp messages about payments, Mudz mentions he has a “B passport and does not need a visa to enter the UK”. The jury was told that Khan was in Rotterdam on an alleged reconnaissance mission linked to the Goraya murder plot and was demanding more money for expenses, but Mudz said the receipts he had provided showed the expenses were far less.

Pakistan-based middleman texts ‘hitman’ that he holds British passport, UK court told

Mudz said he had travelled to Europe on personal trips in the past so he was aware the expenses could not be as high as Khan claimed. To this, Khan said even a visa to the UK would cost 1,000 GBP, to which Mudz responded that he “never got a visa on his B passport”.

The CPS also shared details with the jury about the relationship between the defendant and Mohammed Asif and Raza Syed Hassan, whom they said assisted the defendant in receiving £5,000 from Muzamil on May 21, 2021. Khan had shared Mohammad Amin Asif’s bank details from two accounts. The CPS said evidence showed the money was transferred into one of the accounts.

The defendant knew Syed from when they were at boarding school together in Lahore, the CPS told the court. Syed had lent around £500 to the defendant in the past. Syed introduced the defendant to his brother-in-law Asif in 2014-15, the court heard. Asif worked as an accountant for Khan till around 2017, and would regularly loan him money as he was aware of his financial struggles.

In 2020, Asif transferred £700 to Khan, which was subsequently repaid. Another loan of £160 was made by Syed to Khan in February 2021 after Khan informed him that he was bankrupt. A bankruptcy order had in fact been made by the High Court against the defendant in the same month. Khan’s total debt was £288,244.

Khan did not tell Syed what this money was for.

In May last year, the defendant contacted Asif and asked him if he could do him a favour. He said he had money in Pakistan that he needed in the UK, and that he would transfer £5,000 into Asif’s bank account if Asif would give him the amount in cash.

Khan said he required cash as he was in overdraft and therefore if the money was transferred electronically he could not use it. Asif asked for the money to be transferred in Pakistani rupees into his bank account in Pakistan. They agreed on the currency exchange rate of Rs220 to the pound that amounted to Rs1.1 million.

Khan sent Asif a pay-slip from the private bank in Pakistan showing that on May 21, an individual using the name “Muzzamill” had deposited Rs1.1 million in cash into Asif’s account. Asif gathered £5,000 in cash and was going to arrange for Khan to collect the cash directly from him, but instead gave an envelope containing the money to his brother-in-law, Syed, to give to the defendant.

Khan then met Syed the next day at the latter’s house in Cricklewood, where the cash envelope was given to him in the car. The defendant also returned the £160 that was owed from February 2021 before the two proceeded to go to Costa Coffee. There is no suggestion that Syed or Asif were aware of the real purpose behind the payment.

The police listed the followed items as having been provided by Khan at the time of arrest: a Samsung Galaxy Note 10; ii. a Nokia black phone; iii. an SFR SIM card; iv. a Lycamobile SIM card.

Based on their investigation of the Samsung phone, the police informed Khan’s solicitor that Whatsapp conversations between Khan and Mudz/Zed were suspected to be related to organising and agreeing to commit Goraya’s murder for a price of £100,000.

The hearing will resume at the Kingston-upon-Thames crown court on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022

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