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Coroner records verdict of unlawful killing on Mohammed Iqbal, of Laisterdyke
The family of a Bradford man who was “executed” in Pakistan has called on the British Government to put pressure on the Pakistani authorities to act.
Mohammed Iqbal, 55, was shot in the head as he lay in the room of a relative in Pakistan, in September 2012. He had gone to the country to give evidence in court after he was kidnapped on a previous visit.
Assistant Coroner Tim Ratcliffe yesterday recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.
The inquest in Bradford heard that West Yorkshire Police had carried out a thorough investigation into the murder, but had been hindered by a lack of support from the Pakistani authorities.
Detective Sergeant Simon Leek, who is leading the inquiry, told the inquest that two people had been arrested on separate occasions in connection with Mr Iqbal’s death, but no charges had been forthcoming. Det Sgt Leek said they had been given very little information from Pakistan.
“West Yorkshire Police have offered assistance to the Pakistani authorities a number of times, which has not been taken up. The information we receive predominantly comes directly from the family,” he said.
Det Sgt Leek said it was his understanding that two women and a man were to stand trial in relation to the original kidnap of Mr Iqbal, in 2011. He added: “I believe one person is in custody in connection with the killing.”
Mr Ratcliffe said it was disappointing police were not being given the information.
Det Sgt Leek told the court that Mr Iqbal, of Pavilion Gardens, Laisterdyke, Bradford, was held captive for 20 days after being lured to a location, on the pretence of arbitrating in a land dispute, during a family holiday to Pakistan in September 2011. He was released unharmed after his family raised £15,000 to pay to his captors.
The police were informed and the two women and a man were arrested. Mr Iqbal returned to the UK, intending to see there was a successful prosecution.
Det Sgt Leek said: “A number of calls were made to Mr Iqbal and his family, in the UK and Pakistan, to dissuade him from this course of action. However, he stood firm and wanted the offenders brought to justice.”
In 2012 Mr Iqbal returned to Pakistan in connection with the court proceedings, but received a number of threats to kill him. There were also threats of a sexual nature against his family.
Mr Iqbal intended to give evidence but was “executed” at a relative’s home near Rawalpindi.
Det Sgt Leek said the people suspected of having involvement in the setting up of Mr Iqbal’s murder were rearrested and denied any wrongdoing. There was insufficient evidence to bring them before the court. The officer added: “We’ve been through every level we can to offer our assistance, including the British Embassy. Our offers have not been taken up.”
Mr Iqbal’s widow, Rukhsana, had offered to give evidence by video link from the UK, but there had been no response from the Pakistani authorities.
Pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd found the cause of death was a single gunshot to the head from a small calibre weapon, which would have caused immediate unconsciousness and death within a short time. There was no evidence of a struggle and Mr Iqbal may have been laid prone with his face to the ground when he was shot.
In a statement to police, Mr Iqbal’s niece, Rukhsana Bibi, told how two men armed with pistols burst into her house where he had been staying in Pakistan.
One grabbed her arm and took her to a room where she was made to sit on the bed with other relatives. The man threatened to kill them if they made a noise.
A second man went into the bedroom where Mr Iqbal was. Shortly after they heard the sound of a gunshot and both men fled.
Mrs Bibi ran into the bedroom and found her uncle on the bed. There was blood everywhere and she realised he had been shot. She screamed and called for help. Mr Iqbal died later at hospital.
Assistant Coroner Ratcliffe said: “I conclude Mohammed Iqbal was shot by a single calibre weapon by one man who unlawfully entered the house with the intention of killing him.”
After the hearing, Mr Iqbal’s nephew, Zaffar Mahmood, said his uncle was a kind person who would never have harmed anybody.
He said: “He was worried about his safety but he was determined to see it through and plucked up the courage to see that justice was done.
“I want this Government to put more pressure on the Pakistani government. This has to be stopped. My uncle was a British citizen.
“What happened to him should be brought out. It happens every day out there.”