Hitman in plot to kill Pakistani blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya gets life imprisonment

Published March 12, 2022
This combination photo shows Muhammad Gohir Khan (L), the 31-year-old British Pakistani man convicted of conspiring to murder dissident blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya (R). — Photo courtesy Met Police/Twitter
This combination photo shows Muhammad Gohir Khan (L), the 31-year-old British Pakistani man convicted of conspiring to murder dissident blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya (R). — Photo courtesy Met Police/Twitter

LONDON: Mohammad Gohir Khan, a 31-year-old British man convicted of conspiring to murder Netherlands-based dissident Pakistani blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya was sentenced to life in prison at the Kingston-upon-Thames court on Friday.

The court held that Mr Khan will serve 13 years before he is eligible to apply for parole. The days served in custody will count towards his sentence.

Conspiracy to murder is an offence by virtue of section 1(1) of UK’s Criminal Law Act 1977. If found guilty, convicts can face sentences ranging between a few years to the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

In January this year, a jury returned a unanimous verdict finding Mr Khan guilty of conspiring to kill self-exiled blogger Mr Goraya in Rotterdam.

Mr Khan, born on Feb 16, 1990, was charged in June last year with one count of conspiracy to murder Mr Goraya. The blogger is an activist who left Pakistan after he and five other bloggers were abducted and later released in Islamabad in 2017.

During the trial, the prosecution maintained that Mr Khan was hired by persons who appeared to be based in Pakistan to carry out the “intended killing” of Mr Goraya.

The prosecution said that Mr Khan had travelled to Rotterdam, Netherlands last year as part of a conspiracy to murder Mr 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.

The financial rewards for his actions were believed to be significant, with a payment of £100,000 on offer. At the time, the prosecution said, the defendant was in significant debt, with no clear means of paying his creditors.

Mr Khan was “enthusiastic” about “carrying out the killing to earn the money and to carry out further attacks” in the future, the prosecution told the jury.

The jury was also told how Pakistan-based middleman Muzamil allegedly contacted Mr 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 was shared in the court.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2022

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