London, Mar 25 (PTI) Jabir Moti, described in court as a 'top lieutenant' of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s D Company worldwide criminal network, has appealed in the High Court in London against his extradition to the US to face charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and blackmail.
Moti, a Pakistani national, also known as Jabir Motiwala and Jabir Siddiq, remains behind bars at Wandsworth prison in south-west London and is contesting a Westminster Magistrates' Court extradition order of District Judge John Zani from February last year, which had concluded that there are no bars to his extradition.
The US extradition request states that Moti reported directly to Dawood, who is a designated terrorist and wanted for the 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai.
'This is not a straightforward case,' noted Lord Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith and Justice Robert Jay on Thursday, at the conclusion of the High Court appeal hearing.
The judges have reserved their judgment, which is expected over the course of the next few weeks. They will consider the assertions made by Moti’s barrister, Edward Fitzgerald, that the accused faces a very real risk of an enhancement of charges to terrorism.
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. He also argued that Moti’s clinical depression is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him, given his very high risk of suicide.
The court heard that Moti, who faces serious financial difficulties, has said during mental assessments that he had 'lost all hope' after the death of his mother.
John Hardy, appearing on behalf of the US government, pointed to diplomatic assurances from the American authorities and that there was “no instance” of such assurances being dishonoured.
Unlike the India-UK Extradition Treaty, the US-UK treaty involves a relatively simpler legal process for extradition as the requesting state is not required to establish an elaborate prima facie case against the accused before the British courts.
Besides money laundering, Moti 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.
District Judge Zani’s judgment in favour of extradition was handed down last year in two parts, one open to the public and the other partly closed and classified due to 'sensitive' evidence presented in-camera to the court.
It noted 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 2019, 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.
He later 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. PTI AK ZH ZH