UK murder plot trial: spotlight on ‘hitman’, middleman relationship

Published January 20, 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 defendant in the murder plot trial under way at the Kingston-upon-Thames crown court took the stand on Wednesday, giving evidence about his relationship with the Pakistan-based middleman who allegedly hired him to kill the Netherlands-based blogger, Ahmad Waqass Goraya.

On the fifth day of the trial, the prosecution closed its arguments, and the testimony of the intended target, Mr Goraya, was also read.

The hearing adjourned shortly after Mohammad Gohir Khan, the 31-year-old defendant, was cross-examined by the defence counsel.

Blogger’s testimony read out in court as prosecution closes arguments

Khan said he knew the middleman, Muzamil, (also identified as Mudz, Zed or Papa on phone messages) from his school days in Pakistan.

At previous hearings, the jury was told how Muzamil allegedly contacted Khan in 2021 with an offer to pay £80,000, with £20,000 commission for Muzamil. It is unclear who Muzamil was working for, but evidence that £5,000 was paid into a Pakistani bank account and received through a hundi transfer in London has been shared in the court.

Though Khan was born and largely raised in the UK, he left for Lahore when he was 13 to attend school and lived as a boarding student at the Sharif Education Complex. He returned to London in 2007, without taking final exams for he had to struggle with lessons often being in Urdu.

Khan said he is the third youngest of six siblings, and that his parents moved from Pakistan to the UK in the 1970s. He was born and raised in London, and has lived at his Forest Gate address his entire life. He is married with six children between the ages of 11 and 3.

Upon his return to London, Khan said he joined his uncle who worked at a market stall in Whitechapel, where they sold women’s clothes and accessories. He later joined another uncle to work for a travel agency specialising in Hajj and Umrah packages.

Not long after, Khan said he began to work for his father’s business, World Wide Cargo Services, which transported goods between the UK and Pakistan. Khan said his addition to the family business saw it thrive and become successful. Advertisements with PTV in the UK and Europe as well as Google ads boosted the operations, he said, adding that later it went into decline.

When the defence lawyer asked how he came to know of the middleman, Muzamil, and why he was nicknamed Papa, Khan said he met him when he would visit his family home in Lahore during the school holidays. Khan said Muzamil was nicknamed Papa “because of his height” while describing him as “short, bald and stocky”. He said he was nicknamed Papa after Papa Smurf of the popular comic strip the Smurfs. Years later when Khan ran a freight forwarding and cargo business out of London, he hired Muzamil in Lahore as a goods handler to replace previous employees who were laid off for poor performance.

Khan maintained he did not know Muzamil very well during his school days, and would only see him at his uncle’s home when he (the defendant) would visit from school break. In his interviews with the police, which were read out by the prosecution in court, initially Khan said he could not recall Muzamil’s last name but later said it could be Qamar.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2022

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