Pakistan on Wednesday handed over a Pakistani-origin UK national wanted by British police for murdering eight British citizens to the United Kingdom.
The handover of the wanted man to the UK is seen as a potential starting point for the exchange of wanted persons between the two countries.
Shahid Mehmood, a Pakistani origin British national, is charged with killing eight British citizens of a single family.
On May 12, 2002, Mehmood along with three other co-accused Shahid Iqbal, Nazar Hussain, and Shakeel Shahzad allegedly threw a petrol bomb in a house situated on Osborne Road, Huddersfield, England, in which all the eight people sleeping in the house were murdered.
After committing the offense, the accused Shahid Mehmood ran away from the UK and came to Pakistan.
On Wednesday, the Federal Investigation Agency handed over the accused to the UK under Section 11 of Extradition Act 1972. Mahmood was handed over to British Crime Agency and was taken to the UK in an special chartered flight.
Sources said that the fresh development will pave the way for the exchange of accused and prisoners between the two countries. Pakistan is currently seeking extradition of some key political and other figures charges in money laundering, graft and other case living in the UK. Former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, son of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and founder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement are on the top of the wanted men by Pakistan.
Last month UK Home Secretary Sajid Javed visited Pakistan during which both the countries signed agreement for mutual cooperation regarding justice and accountability.
At that time Prime Minister’s Advisor on Accountability Barrister Shehzad Akbar had said that the government was going to restore the prisoners’ swap agreement with the UK.
It is to be mentioned here that the British government raised the matter of Shahid Mehmood with Pakistan through diplomatic channels, and upon receiving the extradition request in January 2015 the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Mr Mehmood.
He was taken into custody on Jan 22, 2015, and produced before the additional deputy commissioner of Islamabad.
Mr Mehmood approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his possible extradition to the United Kingdom, and IHC Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Kasi after the preliminary hearing issued a stay order in the matter.
According to court documents, on May 12, 2002, Mr Mehmood “along with three other co-accused Shahid Iqbal, Nazar Hussain, and Shakeel Shahzad threw a petrol bomb in a house situated on Osborne Road, Huddersfield, England, in which all the eight people sleeping in the house were murdered”.
Before the additional commissioner, the suspect said he was arrested by British police on May 12, 2002, and interrogated before being released on bail. He pleaded that the British police issued his arrest warrants after more than 10 years. He also claimed the government could not extradite him since there is no extradition treaty between the UK and Pakistan.
Instead, he offered to be tried by the Pakistani courts, saying he could pay the heirs of the deceased blood money, as he is permitted to pay a certain amount under Islamic laws.
The FIA admitted that there is no extradition treaty between the UK and Pakistan, but said that a suspect could be extradited if the government issues a notification under section 4 of the Extradition Act 1972, which has been issued and published in the official gazette by the competent authority.
The FIA’s rejoinder added that the suspect had violated British laws and could only be prosecuted in the UK. “The fugitive offender is a UK national and he can face a fair trial in the UK,” it said
However, the stay granted against the possible extradition of Mahmood was later vacated by the court.