Fri, Nov 10, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Trio jailed for racist murder in Scotland

AFP , LONDON

Three Pakistani-Scottish men were jailed for at least 22 years on Wednesday for kidnapping and murdering a white schoolboy whom they stabbed repeatedly and set alight in a racist attack that shocked Britain.

The trio of street gang members fled to Pakistan after the brutal March 2004 killing of 15-year-old Kriss Donald, before they were arrested and sent back to Britain last year in a special deal in the absence of an extradition treaty.

Capping a 27-day trial, a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh took almost eight hours to convict Imran Shahid, 29, his brother Zeeshan Shahid, 28, and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, 27, of the boy's abduction, assault and murder.

The victim's mother Angela Donald, who was hugged by her supporters, shouted "You bastards" as the verdict was delivered at the end of a 27-day trial.

Outside the court later, she said: "Justice has been done. Thank you. It is over."

Her son was stabbed 13 times and set on fire while he was still alive, on a quiet walkway behind the training ground of Celtic Football Club in the east end of Glasgow.

The court heard that the elder Shahid was bent on revenge after he was attacked with a bottle outside a night club the night before.

Lord Uist, the presiding judge, told the court that he would not tolerate race-hate crimes as he prepared to sentence the trio.

He said he took into account the killers' previous convictions, the "diabolical nature of the crime which you committed", their lack of remorse and the fact that they were found guilty of a racially aggravated crime.

The elder Shahid was later ordered jailed for at least 25 years, his brother at least 23 years and Faisal Mushtaq for at least 22 years.

Mohammed Sarwar, a British member of parliament from Glasgow, was so concerned that racial tensions could boil over that he intervened several times with the Pakistani authorities, including President Pervez Musharaf, to ensure the men were caught and prosecuted.

"I think it could have been very damaging for race relations in Scotland if these Asian suspects were allowed to escape justice," Sarwar said.

In October last year, Pakistan handed the men over to Britain for questioning after arresting them several months earlier.

The British high commission in Islamabad said at the time it was the first case of its kind because Pakistan had no formal extradition agreement with Britain and had only been able to act after lengthy talks and a change in the law.

All three accused had denied taking part in the killing, but the jury of six men and nine women found Imran Shahid guilty by unanimous verdict and the other two guilty by majority verdicts.

The gang was caught based on eye-witness accounts of the abduction, statements said to have been made by the accused, mobile phone records, and forensic evidence against one of the men.

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