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November 28, 2019

UK judge questions US intentions in Pakistani businessmen Jabir Motiwala extradition case

World

November 28, 2019

LONDON: The Westminster Magistrate’s Court has asked the United States authorities to come clean on whether an “enhanced terror charge” or “terrorism enhancement” will be added on Karachi businessman Jabir Motiwala if he were to be extradited to the US to face importation of drugs and extortion charges.

On the concluding day of the extradition trial, District Judge John Zani raised the most important question in the extradition case: whether the US Prosecutors will seek a terrorism enhancement if the Pakistani national was extradited to the US.

American authorities have accused Motiwala of importing class A drugs, extortion and money laundering in the United States. He has not been accused of terrorism charges but the indictment issued by the US details Motiwala being a “top lieutenant” of Dawood Ibrahim’s so-called network. Motiwala has denied being a member of any network and so far the court has not seen any evidence linking him with D-company or any evidence showing involvement of Motiwala and D-company. The US authorities – and their counterparts in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – have shown no proof to the court linking Dawood Ibrahim or his alleged network with Motiwala.

In the middle of the oral submissions on Wednesday, the judge questioned why the US was not giving a clear undertaking that a terror charge or terror enhancement will not be added if Motiwala was extradited. It is understood that the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) has written several emails to their counterparts in the US asking them to provide clarity on the possible inclusion of terror charges or terror enhancement but the US authorities have chosen not to provide a clear response.

Judge John Zani asked the US authorities to “put flesh on the bone and explain the thought process”. He questioned why an unequivocal statement on whether a terrorism charge or terror enhancement will be added or not has been provided.

Defence Counsel Edward Fitzgerald QC told the Judge that Motiwala should not be extradited to the US because his human rights under Article 3 will be breached. He told the court that prison conditions in the US are inhumane and degrading, rendering Motiwala’s life in danger. He made a reference to the medical reports that Motiwala had a history of mental depression and on three occasions he tried to commit suicide.

Mr Fitzgerald QC told the court that the US government agents were in breach of international law when they conducted their operations in Pakistan and obtained evidence involving Motiwala. Mr Fitzgerald QC said he was not seeking an entrapment defence, however the evidence was gathered without the approval of sovereign Pakistani government, therefore international law was breached.

Mr Fitzgerald QC drew the court’s attention towards the facts of the case leading to Motiwala being given a sentence of life without parole.

Two American expert witnesses previously told the Westminster Magistrates’ Court that extraditing Motiwala will put his life at risk in unsafe jails, his mental health will further deteriorate therefore placing him in a high risk of suicide. They provided reports to the court about deplorable jail conditions following the death of Jeffrey Epstein on the 10th August 2019. Epstein was housed in the Special Housing Unit where he was subject to solitary confinement prior to his death. The experts have told the court that the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC) and the Metropolitan Detention Centre (MDC) New York are over populated prisons, mismanaged, under staffed, troubled with racism, with these issues being a recurring theme for many years without any action being taken.

The CPS lawyer, making representations on behalf of the US, told the court that Motiwala will not be at risk of suicide risk and assurances have been provided.

Lawyers from both sides have agreed to frame questions for the US authorities to provide assurance that no terrorism enhancement will be sought in the event of extradition of Jabir Motiwala.

Judgement in this matter is reserved. Motiwala is represented by Counsel, Edward Fitzgerald QC and Daniel Sternberg and lawyers Deepak Vij and Amirah Ajaz of ABV Solicitors.

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