UK Court Clears Extradition of Dawood Ibrahim's Aide Jabir Moti to US
London: Pakistani-national Jabir Moti, described as a "top lieutenant" of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's D-Company, on Thursday lost his fight against being sent to the US to face drug trafficking and money laundering charges, as a UK court ruled there are no bars to his extradition.
Judge John Zani handed down his judgment at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London in two parts — one open to the public and partly closed and classified, due to "sensitive" evidence presented in-camera to the court during the course of the extradition trial last year.
"I have rejected all your challenges. I have thought them through carefully, but I have decided to send the matter to the Secretary of State to decide on extradition," the judge said, as he handed down the open part of the ruling.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel must now sign on the court order for the extradition process to take place within two months.
The US extradition request had stated that Moti aka Motiwala aka Jabir Siddiq reported directly to Dawood, who is a designated terrorist and wanted in India for the 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, Moti's legal team indicated that "most likely than not" they would be seeking permission to appeal in the high court, which can take place once Patel has signed the extradition order.
Unlike the India-UK Extradition Treaty, the US-UK treaty involves a relatively simpler legal process for extradition as the requesting state does not require to establish an elaborate prima facie case against the accused before the British courts.
An unshaven Moti appeared via videolink from Wandsworth prison in south-west London for the hearing and appeared emotionless as the verdict was read out. Besides money laundering, he faces extradition to the US on charges of extortion and conspiracy to import unlawful substances such as heroine after his arrest by Scotland Yard's Extradition Unit in August 2018.
"I find that Jabir Motiwala's extradition to the United States of America to face criminal prosecution complies with his Convention Rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998I also find that there are no bars to this extradition as would intervene to prevent extradition," the judgment notes.
The judgement further notes that according to information set out in the US extradition request, the 53-year-old is said to be an important member of an international criminal organisation called 'D Company', based in Pakistan, India and UAE. That organisation is said to have conducted criminal activities in the US, which include drug trafficking, money laundering and blackmail.
During closing arguments in the case in November last year, the judge had sought clarity from the US authorities about the terror aspect of the case, due to references to Moti's links with D-Company.
"There is an added element to this case in that there is a clear reference to this man's (Moti) position, who is said to be a lieutenant of the man (Dawood) who is involved in the most horrendous crimes, including bombings in India," Judge Zani had noted previously.
Moti's barrister Edward Fitzgerald had stressed that the American authorities had failed to provide an undertaking that his client will not be subjected to an additional terrorism charge over and above the drug trafficking allegation.
The terror charge would put Moti at risk of being sentenced to life imprisonment without parole under US law, which his lawyer argued would be in breach of his human rights and therefore should block his extradition.
They also argued against extradition on additional human rights grounds because he suffers from longstanding depression and made three suicide attempts.
The Crown Prosecution Service, arguing on behalf of the US government, had countered these claims to highlight the assurances given by the US authorities.
In his ruling on Thursday, Judge Zani concluded that he was satisfied that the US authorities are well aware of Moti's mental health issues and evidence received from them states that they remain confident that his needs will be adequately met and that appropriate medication will be provided.
At previous hearings in the case, the UK court has heard that Dawood is a fugitive from Indian justice and currently in Pakistan.
"The head of D-Company is Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian Muslim currently in exile in Pakistan. Dawood and his brother and top lieutenant, Anis Ibrahim, have been fugitives from India since 1993, when D-Company was implicated in coordinated bombings in Mumbai that killed more than 200 people," note excerpts of a US Attorney's affidavit for extradition read out in court last year.
"The present investigation has revealed that Jabir Motiwala is a top lieutenant in D-Company who reports directly to Dawood Ibrahim, it added.