‘Hitman’ grilled in blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya’s murder plot case

Published January 25, 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: As the trial involving 31-year-old British Pakistani Gohir Khan entered its second week on Monday, the prosecution grilled him about his intention to travel to the Netherlands allegedly as part of a conspiracy to kill self-exiled blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya.

Alison Morgan QC led the prosecution, and questioned why Mr Khan did not approach the police when he was contacted by the Pakistan-based middleman Muzamil to kill someone; why Mr Khan kept asking if the ‘job’ or killing was a debt-related one; why he purchased a knife; and why he made efforts to deceive the immigration authorities to enter the Netherlands.

While maintaining that he was not guilty of intent to kill, the defendant claimed he “never intended to kill anyone”, but that he “wanted to get money out of Muzamil as he owed him money”. He said he purchased the knife to cut steak, fruit and bread and travelled to the Netherlands to convince Muzamil to give him more money.

He claimed the messages he sent to the middleman about the tool, the target and the job were meant only to give him the impression that he [Khan] was serious about the job but in reality all he wanted was money.

Prosecution will continue to cross-examine British Pakistani suspect today

Morgan cross-examined Khan for several hours, going back to the timeline of events as established by Whatsapp and Signal messages, CCTV footage and receipts. She pressed Khan on why he purchased a knife for 10.99 euros when there were cheaper options available, and why he waited until the next day to use the knife to eat the steak as he had wanted. She also asked why Mr Khan kept the receipt for the knife despite discarding others, and why he did not mention the knife to the police till he was confronted about it, to which he responded that he forgot as he had a lapse of memory.

She asked Mr Khan if he was a deceitful person, to which he said he tried to be as honest as he could. To this, she followed up by asking why he used a fake PCR test and a bogus letter of reference to hoodwink immigration authorities at Schipol Airport.

The prosecution will continue his cross-examination on Tuesday, and the jury will then review the statements of the defence and prosecution before it comes to a decision.

At previous hearings, the jury was told how Muzamil allegedly contacted Khan in 2021 with an offer to pay £80,000 for the job, while telling him about his own commission of £20,000.

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 is the third youngest of six siblings. 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 aged between 11 and three.

The prosecution alleged that Khan had travelled to Rotterdam last year as part of a conspiracy to murder Goraya, and that he had undertaken a reconnaissance mission outside his home and even bought a tool with the aim to succeed in his mission.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022

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