Blogger’s murder plot trial closes

Published January 27, 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 conspiracy to murder trial involving British Pakistani Mohammad Gohir Khan, accused of being a contract killer hired to murder the Netherlands-based dissident blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya, came to a close on Wednesday at the Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court after both sides concluded arguments.

The jury heard the defence counsel make a final statement in which the prosecution’s allegations against defendant Khan were rebuffed.

Counsel Maloney said the defendant never intended to kill blogger Goraya as his intention was to get money out of the Pakistan-based middleman Muzamil who sought to contract him for the hit, as payback for financial damages that were incurred to the defendant some years ago.

Lending strength to his claim, the defence counsel said Khan never deleted messages from his devices and that though he was persistent about traveling to Rotterdam where the target lived, he was also “persistently reckless about arrest”.

UK jury to deliberate on evidence

“If he was genuinely worried about being involved in a conspiracy to murder, he would have deleted messages when he was deported [from Amsterdam]. But he didn’t, because there was nothing to be concerned about.”

Mr Maloney said there are “real problems with the theory about the knife”. The prosecution a day earlier in its closing statement said the 10.99- euro knife was allegedly purchased by his client as a murder weapon, and that he paid cash for it and kept a receipt to get it reimbursed by the middleman. The prosecution had alleged that Khan had picked that specific knife, and not a cheaper one, to use it in the murder so that he could conceal the murder weapon.

The defence side, however, argued that his was a paring knife and “not a chopping or carving knife”. The counsel said: “That is not a knife we think would be right for that purpose [to murder].”

Mr Maloney elaborated that if his client wanted to buy a knife to kill someone, he would have paid 2 euros more and bought a 12.99-euro knife, next to the one he actually had purchased.

He then challenged the prosecution’s argument that Khan paid for the knife in cash and didn’t want to be found, by saying that he made other cash payments and even kept the receipt for the knife with him. “If the purpose of cash was to conceal the purchase of a knife, why in heaven’s name would he bring the receipt back with him to St Pancras?” he argued.

The lawyer said the distinctive red car his client hired with his own documents also demonstrated he did not intend to kill blogger Goraya. “You think he would kill him in broad daylight?” he beseeched members of the jury.

Mr Maloney said Khan sat in that distinctive car registered in his name for hours, which would surely have outed him as he used it to go to shops and inquire about Goraya from people.

The defence counsel said the reality was that Khan persisted in his attempts to extract money as he “never thought he wouldn’t get it”. Though Muzamil said he would not pay more than the money, the defendant did not accept it and kept trying to get out a few thousand pounds. “If he was going to go ahead with the murder and get £80,000, why would he try so hard to get a few thousand?”

While highlighting the relationship between the middleman and the defendant, the lawyer said Khan was left shattered by Muzamil after they worked together some years ago. Khan’s shipping business collapsed allegedly due to Muzamil’s theft and mismanagement, he added.

To conclude, the defence reiterated that Khan never did any research on Goraya, and did not even search his name on Google, Facebook or Instagram. “He was also not aware of Goraya’s political or religious leanings, which shows that he did not intend to kill him.”

The jury will now deliberate on the evidence and return with a majority verdict.

According to the blogger, the arrest of the British-Pakistani man was linked to an incident that took place on February 12, 2021.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2022

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