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Entertainment

Web Desk
August 14, 2013

Margalla Towers architect arrested by Interpol

Entertainment

Web Desk
Wed, Aug 14, 2013
LONDON: The case of a British Pakistani architect arrested through Interpol in connection with the Margalla Towers collapse during 2005 quake is likely to cost Pakistani taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds but there is little chance that his prosecution will benefit Pakistan.
Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, a design engineer originally from Harrow in London, was hired to design the first ever multi-storey apartment building, Margalla Towers in F-10, one of Pakistani capital’s posh districts.
Dr Sheikh was not engaged by the owners to supervise the construction of the towers, his lawyer Barrister Iftikhar Ahmed has told The News.
According to details, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had Dr Sheikh’s design approved by a panel of three top architects of the country, including Nayyar Ali Dada, Walayat Ali Khan and Habib Fida Ali.
Ramzan Khokhar and his wife, CDA officials and Dr Sheikh were named in a FIR lodged by the Interior Ministry after the collapse of the building but Dr Sheikh and Khokhars were in London when the investigations commenced.
The Interior Ministry had in the meanwhile issued Red Warrants through Interpol for the arrest of Mr and Mrs Ramzan Khokhar and Dr Sheikh immediately after the collapse.
Barrister Iftikhar Ahmed explained that a trial court in Rawalpindi has acquitted all accused by declaring “the collapse of a Margalla Tower due to the unprecedented earthquake of 2005 as an act of God, with none responsible for it”. The government appealed and the matter is still pending but it is understood that all of the accused are on bail except for Dr Sheikh who did not appear before the court.
Following the trial court’s acquittal of all accused, Mr Khokhar returned to Pakistan and obtained bail and returned back to London and his name was removed from Interpol Wanted list.
Following the trial court’s acquittal of all accused, Mr Khokhar returned to Pakistan and obtained bail and returned back to London.

His name was removed from Interpol Wanted list. It can also be revealed that in November 2009 on a visit to Barcelona, Dr Sheikh was arrested by Spanish police acting on the Red Warrants of Interpol and informed Pakistan. Barrister Iftikhar Ahmad represented Dr Sheikh in his case before the Spanish authorities.
Pakistan was to send a formal request for extradition of Dr Sheikh within a specified time under the Spanish extradition laws but failed to do so and after about three months of detention and bail Dr Sheikh was free to leave Spain.
Barrister Ahmed said that Pakistan has referred numerous Pakistanis to be placed on Wanted list of Interpol for different offences. In cases where the arrest does materialise, the government of Pakistan will have to incur huge amount of foreign exchange by way of hiring a Pakistani lawyer competent in Extradition laws, their travel and maintenance costs in a foreign country, translation of plethora of court documents into the language of the state apprehending the person, along with travel expenses etc.
Barrister Iftikhar Ahmed commented: “In the case of Dr Sheikh, all this drain on the exchequer to get him to Pakistan would inevitably result in his bail the following day, by the trial court, making the mockery of the whole process.
British embassy in Athens, through its Counselor in Zakynthos, has met Dr Sheikh to offer assistance. I will be flying to Patras where the Extradition court is likely to commence the bail hearing in few days.”