Middleman talked of future contract killings, UK jury told

Published January 26, 2022
A photo of exiled blogger and activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya. — Ahmad Waqass Goraya Twitter
A photo of exiled blogger and activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya. — Ahmad Waqass Goraya Twitter

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LONDON: The Pakistan-based middleman, Muzamil, who allegedly sought to hire 31-year-old Mohammad Gohir Khan to kill dissident blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya had also mentioned future ‘jobs’, a UK jury heard on Tuesday.

The prosecution said the first mention of a ‘job’ of this nature was in November or December 2020, but that no details were shared of the target. Then, a voice note shared on a messaging application was played in court, in which a man with a British accent could be heard saying: “If the first one is done nicely within a month, then by the end of June you will get another one and the third one. You’ll keep getting a cut of about £20,000-£30,000 depending on the quality of work.”

To this voice message, Khan responded with a laugh: “I don’t guarantee quality, Inshallah we guarantee job to be done.” In a follow-up text, the defendant referred to the murder plot using Muzamil’s nickname: “Papa, your boys shine in the whole of the UK. Europe will be our best effort.”

Muzamil was nicknamed Papa, according to Khan, because of his resemblance to the cartoon character Papa Smurf.

The prosecution produced this evidence in court to challenge Khan’s submission that he did not intend to kill Mr Goraya and that he was in it just to extract money.

Alison Morgan QC, leading the prosecution, said there would have been no more jobs if the defendant had ripped the middleman off.

The hearing was adjourned till Wednesday after the prosecution made its final arguments.

Justice Hilliard directed the jury to make their decision on three key points: whether there was a conspiracy to murder Mr Goraya, whether the defendant entered that conspiracy, and whether he intended to go through with the murder plot.

The judge also explained that in order to prove guilt, the prosecution did not have to prove that the defendant was in the conspiracy from the beginning, nor did they have to prove that he knew all the details, or was in contact with everyone. It was enough if they proved that the defendant conspired that Mr Goraya should be murdered and that he intended that Mr Goraya should be murdered, Justice Hilliard said.

Defendant Khan repeatedly said he did not intend to kill anyone, and that he told Muzamil lies in the hope that he could extract money from him. At previous hearings, Khan detailed how Muzamil was a fraudster who owed him money and was responsible for his poor financial predicament.

However, the prosecution alleged that Khan was a habitual liar, who had lied to numerous individuals, including members of his family, immigration officials as well as his friends, in order to further his efforts in this plot.

Ms Morgan said Mr Khan sought to justify the killing to himself by seeking confirmation on three occasions from Muzamil that it was not a ‘debt-related job’. She said this squaring of his conscience with the killing showed intention. She said the language used by the defendant in response to Muzamil when the deal was first mentioned demonstrated he was not pretending. When Muzamil was sending details of the target to Khan, he was not seen reacting in horror, pulling out of the plan or expressing outrage, the prosecutor said.

She also stressed that the jury should think about the extent to which Khan had dragged his family into an alleged criminal activity, and whether he would have done so if it was for as he claimed a few thousand pounds. Morgan named a teacher Aziz, whom the defendant approached to write a fake letter of support for his travel to the Netherlands so he could defraud authorities. She also named an individual Akki, who helped him obtain a fake PCR test.

She brought attention to how the defendant persisted on travel to the Netherlands, and described how he told Dutch immigration authorities about a fictitious brother and argued with them about not letting him see his brother. If he was just pretending, she said, why did he then, upon being denied entry to Amsterdam, two days later then board the Eurostar to Paris to regain entry to the Netherlands. “His eye was on a much bigger prize, if the prize hadn’t been that big he would obviously have stopped at that point,” she said.

Morgan then mentioned the knife that the prosecution alleged was the intended murder weapon. She said the knife was among the most expensive in the range available at the shop, something disguisable and one that could be kept close to his person, but also one that allegedly would be fit for his purpose. “This knife was not to cut up a three-day-old steak,” she said, adding that he hid the purchase from police officers for most of the interviews.

The defence will make its closing arguments on Wednesday (today) after which the jury will deliberate and share its verdict.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022

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