Mumbai family fighting to clear Barcelona bomber's name

The family of an Indian businessman convicted of participating in a plot to stage a suicide bombing in Barcelona is preparing to move the European Court of Human Rights to clear his name, saying Spanish courts grossly erred in their appraisal of the evidence.

Roshan Jamal Khan, a Mumbai resident and the only Indian national to ever have been convicted of a charge linked to al-Qaeda's operations, was arrested by Spain's Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, or the national intelligence centre, just after midnight on January 19, 2008. He was convicted, along with ten others, all Pakistani nationals, and sentenced to six years in prison.

‘In wrong place’

His wife Farida Khan, however, says her husband barely knew the men, other than as fellow-worshippers at the mosque from where he was arrested. Bas Aadaab-dua wali pehchaan thi [they were casual acquaintances],” she said. “My husband's only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Hundreds of pages of trial documents and police investigation records obtained by The Hindu, as well as interviews with intelligence officials, establish that Mr. Khan was identified as a member of the terrorist cell on the basis of the testimony of a single witness — a French intelligence informer, code-named ‘F1,' who had infiltrated the alleged plot to stage suicide bombings on January 19 and 20, 2008.

No explosive found

Little explosive material was, however, found from the cell, and this discredited F1's claims that a suicide attack was imminent — and none of it was linked to Mr. Khan.

“The witness on whose testimony alone my client has been convicted does not even know his name,” says Bennet Salas, Mr. Khan's lawyer in Spain.

Mr. Khan owned Tauheed Overseas, a company which dealt in scarves and imitation jewellery. In the late 2007, he travelled to Barcelona, hoping, Ms. Khan says, to expand into olive trade. He stayed there for three months with his brother-in-law Amanullah Khan, a dye factory worker who has lived in the country for over a decade.

Indian intelligence officials familiar with the case say they found no evidence that Mr. Khan had terror links. Though a Spanish police briefing document obtained by The Hindu suggests that Mr. Khan may have been the conduit for funds al-Qaeda routed for the operation, no evidence was found.

Background check

Tauheed Overseas' operations, an Indian intelligence official told The Hindu, were audited, and a thorough background check was conducted.

“The Spanish authorities,” the official said, “refused to allow us to question the suspects — and never asked us about our findings either.”

Indian evidence supporting Mr. Khan's claims of innocence was thus never produced in court.

Mahboob Khan, Mr. Khan's brother, insists that he had “no reason to be involved in terror activity.” “He was born and brought up in a cosmopolitan environment, had friends across religions. He is father of six children, and he would not do anything stupid to hamper their future.”

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 11:14:51 PM |

Next Story