ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court in Islamabad on Thursday ruled that MQM founder Altaf Hussain had the party’s senior leader Dr Imran Farooq assassinated and sentenced three men to life imprisonment for their involvement in the murder.
“It is proved that Altaf Hussain ordered the killing of Dr Imran Farooq,” read the verdict penned by Judge Shahrukh Arjumand.
Dr Farooq, a founding member of the MQM, was stabbed and bludgeoned to death near his apartment in London in September 2010.
The court handed down the life term to Khalid Shamim, Mohsin Ali and Moazzam Ali on the charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and aiding and abetting. It imposed a fine of Rs1 million on each of them – to be paid as compensation to Dr Farooq’s family.
The three men were affiliated with MQM at the time of the murder.
“In the instant case, the chain of evidence connects each and every accused who has performed a distinctive role for completing the task,” the verdict read.
The court ruled that Altaf ordered the killing of Dr Farooq and two of his other senior party members in London communicated his orders to relevant people in Pakistan.
Moazzam Ali, another senior party member working at Nine Zero, the headquarters of the MQM, along with Khalid Shamim engaged Mohsin Ali and Kashif Khan Kamran to carry out the assassination.
“The two executors were properly facilitated who went with a sole purpose to London for committing the murder and as per preplanned conspiracy, an innocent person was brutally murdered,” the judgment read.
It further stated that the act of the abettors and the executors was preconceived with a design to intimidate and overawe the public in general and workers of MQM in particular “so that in future no one can raise voice against Altaf Hussain, the leader of MQM”.
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The court ruled that the motive for murdering Dr Farooq on the orders of Altaf and other senior party leadership was proved because of the victim’s strong position and services in the party.
The judge noted that Dr Farooq's notes, written and signed by him in 2008, showed that he feared he would be murdered on the pretext of trying to become number one in the MQM.
"Existence of that threat also figures in the two confessional statements made by accused and further more Khalid Shamim while directly referring to a conversation with his leader Altaf Hussain states that Altaf Hussain told him that no one can be his number 2, 3 or 1½ what to say of number one."
The court also issued arrest warrants for absconders in the case, including Altaf Hussain, Iftikhar Hussain, Mohammad Anwar and Kashif Kamran. The judgment read that the court expected from the governments of Pakistan and UK that absconders would be traced, arrested and brought before court as soon as possible.
The judge termed the case "historical in nature" as an agreement was made between two sovereign countries -- Pakistan and the UK -- for sharing documentary evidence.
According to the UK’s Metropolitan Police, the conviction came about after a ground-breaking piece of collaboration between the two countries.
“[This] enabled evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police Service to be shared with Pakistani prosecutors and be presented as part of their case,” it added.
The Metropolitan Police said it the conviction came almost 10 years after the murder of Dr Farooq and was “the culmination of painstaking work by detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, who sifted through thousands of hours of CCTV, spoke with over 4,000 witnesses and collected more than 4,500 exhibits as part of the investigation, which led them to identify the two men who committed the murder outside Dr Farooq’s home in Green Lane, Edgware”.
Following a trial in Islamabad, Pakistani national Mohsin Ali Syed, 35 (15.05.85), was found guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder Dr Imran Farooq. Muhammad Kashif Khan Kamran, 40 (6.07.79), a Pakistani national and the other individual who was identified by Met detectives as being involved in the murder, was also convicted in absentia of murdering Dr Farooq.”
“I am pleased that one of the men we identified as being responsible for the murder of Dr Imran Farooq has finally been brought to justice,” said Commander Richard Smith, Head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. This outcome would not have been possible were it not for the incredible dedication, skill and determination of the investigation team, who for almost ten years, have never given up in their pursuit of his killers,” he added.
“I would also like to pay tribute to Dr Imran Farooq’s widow and his family, who have shown tremendous dignity, strength and patience as we have gone about our investigation.”
British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner said the conviction marked a team effort between law agencies in the UK and Pakistan working together to get justice for the murder of Dr Imran Farooq.
“This ground-breaking legal collaboration meant that evidence gathered by the British police could be shared with Pakistani prosecutors and used in the successful prosecution of Mohsin Ali Syed.”
The court had completed the murder trial last month after five years and reserved the verdict.
In 2015, the FIA registered a case against Altaf Hussain for allegedly ordering the murder while nominating three other accused – Khalid Shamim, Mohsin Ali and Moazzam Ali. However, on May 13 the suspects retracted their confessional statements before ATC judge Arjumand and recorded their fresh statements at a hearing held at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail. The suspects decided not to present any witnesses in their defence.
A day earlier, the counsel for the accused claimed that the alleged bank documents and attendance sheets of a United Kingdom university – presented by the FIA as evidence against the accused – were forged.
The counsel for Mohsin Ali said the FIA forced his client to confess to the crime under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). He said the FIA officials concocted the statement after taking a signature of the accused on a plain paper.
He said Dr Farooq was assassinated in London in 2010 but the FIA registered a case five years later. “Dr Imran Farooq was himself an absconder. The state had announced a bounty on him and he had a number of enemies,” he said.
The counsel said the statement of Dr Farooq’s wife was also full of contradictions. “In the statement that she gave before London Police, she accused MQM founder Altaf Hussain of the murder but in her statement submitted to the court she apparently retracted her claim,” he said.
He said his client Mohsin Ali had gone to London for higher education and has no connection with the murder. The lawyer also pointed out that the sketch of the murderer made with the assistance of an eyewitness was not of his client.
The counsel for another accused Moazzam Ali said his client was a businessman who travelled a lot to the UK, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries for business dealings.
He said the FIA was trying to link the banking transaction of a businessman with the murder. He said Moazzam was part of the MQM but being associated with a political party was not a crime.
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