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Monday Sep 23 2019

Pakistan may approach UK for extradition of high-profile suspects in Dr Imran Farooq case

Photo: File

LONDON: Scotland Yard has said that it remains committed to bringing to justice the murder suspects of Dr Imran Farooq, the former leader of Muttahdia Qaumi Movement (MQM) who was murdered nine years ago here.

When asked about the evidence file handed over to Pakistan in relation to Dr Imran Farooq murder case for the prosecution and trial of three murder suspects in Pakistan, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said that it remains “committed to bringing those responsible for the murder of Dr Imran Farooq to justice”.

The Scotland Yard spokesman refused to discuss details of the evidence material passed to Pakistan but confirmed that it was aware of the “related prosecutions, which are pending in Pakistan”.

The News revealed on Tuesday that British government has agreed to cooperate with Pakistan under the mutual legal assistance formula in Dr Imran Farooq case and the UK Central Authority (UKCA) has confirmed its assistance to Pakistan in writing.

A UK government spokesman, commenting on cooperation between Pakistan and UK in Dr Imran Farooq murder case, said it was a long-standing policy of the British government to “neither confirm nor deny the existence of mutual legal assistance requests” but added: “The UK has a longstanding policy of opposing the death penalty as a matter of principle. This has not changed.”

It’s understood that the file sent by Scotland Yard to Pakistan has damning information on individuals based in Pakistan and the UK -- all linked with the MQM at some stage in some capacity. The news of UK-Pakistan cooperation has caused worry to lots of people, as their names will be released in coming weeks as the case goes ahead in the anti-terrorism court.

If the MQM leaders in UK are involved in the murder of Dr Imran Farooq, this could ultimately result in extradition proceedings via Interpol from UK to Pakistan as Pakistan has assured the UK government in this specific case that anyone found guilty will not be subjected to death penalty.

The UKCA has agreed to cooperate under the mutual legal assistance, by which all evidence obtained during the murder inquiry will be shared and used to convict those involved. If the evidence contains names -- and evidence -- linking any MQM leaders to the crime, which is credible enough to sentence people in their absentia at the Islamabad ATC, then arrest warrants will be issued via Interpol.

If such a situation arises, the UKCA will have to entertain this extradition request, according to legal experts. This does not mean that an automatic extradition will take place. However the request will trigger a trial in the UK courts which will have to be satisfied that the evidence is in fact sufficient to link those who have aided and abetted the crime, said a law expert.

It must also be noted that Pakistan has provided assurances that those involved in this particular case will not be afforded the death penalty, which means that those who could be extradited will be afforded the same protection.

The fact that the UKCA has agreed to share information after nine years of intensive investigation means that those who committed, aided, abetted and financed this crime will be held accountable, whether they are in Pakistan or UK. For example, Moazzam Ali Khan was not present in the UK when Dr Imran Farooq was killed but he was aware of the murder plan and provided visa sponsorship to Mohsin Ali Syed and Kashif Khan Kamran. Mohsin Ali Syed is in custody but it’s believed that Kashif Khan Kamran died in police custody several years ago.

The UKCA has confirmed that Pakistan requested for assistance dated on February 21, 2019 by Sikandar Hayat of the Ministry of Interior.

The letter stated that “the request has been considered and accepted by the UKCA on behalf of the secretary of state in relation on the assurance against the imposition of the death penalty given in your letter of 26 June 2019, the promulgation of the Pakistan Penal Code (amendment) Bill 2019 and on the basis that the defendants continue to be detained in compliance with international human rights laws”.