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Sunday June 23, 2024

Islamabad extradites Norwegian-Pakistani on terrorism-conspiracy charges

By Waqar Gillani
May 04, 2024
Armed police officers are seen outside the Nobel Institute in Oslo. — AFP/File
Armed police officers are seen outside the Nobel Institute in Oslo. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday extradited Norwegian-Pakistani Arfan Qadeer Bhatti on conspiracy of terrorism charges.

Bhatti was flown to Oslo amid tight security on a special plane while his intra-court appeal against the extradition order was scheduled to be heard on May 28 before a two-member bench of Islamabad High Court. Bhatti moved an intra-court appeal to block his extradition but the petition was dismissed by Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Justice Amir Farooq. On April 29, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan heard the petition and later fixed it for May 28 without granting an interim relief or stay.

An inquiry court set up by the federal government in January suggested the federal government extradite Bhatti for the investigation into a shooting in June 2022 that killed two people near a club in central Oslo. The Norwegian authorities had declared Bhatti a second suspect and conspirator and linked him to the prime suspect Zaniar Matapour, a Norwegian of Iranian origin. Bhatti, as per his family, was in Pakistan at the time of that terrorist incident but later in Sep 2022 was picked up by Pakistani authorities from his ancestral hometown in district Gujrat, Punjab. The inquiry court trial started in early 2023. Since then Bhatti was kept in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi.

Bhatti, in the 40s, was born and raised in Norway by his parents. A couple of weeks after his detention he was produced before the inquiry court for trial. Norwegian police had issued an international arrest warrant for Bhatti. Police in Norway sought Bhatti for the alleged “complicity in a terrorist act”. Bhatti, before the inquiry court, termed the Norwegian case based on religious discrimination and contrary to the facts.

Following the inquiry report, Bhatti moved to Islamabad High Court. but the chief judge dismissed his petition allowing extradition. Norway was actively pursuing the extradition with the Pakistani authorities. Pakistan and Norway do not have a treaty of extradition. For this purpose, the federal cabinet gave special approval to this extradition case through a notification. “On Thursday night Bhatti called one of his relatives expressing fear of being extradited in the next few hours,†one of his uncles said, adding, “His extradition without proper hearing of his appeal before the appellate court was strange to us.†“Bhatti left Pakistan around Friday noon on a special plane,†an official privy to developments said. He will defend his case in Oslo.