[Reader-list] War Hero, Bangladeshi Killer

Naeem Mohaiemen naeem.mohaiemen at gmail.com
Mon Jun 23 06:03:59 IST 2008

Racist killer captured after bid to flee court
By DAVID ROSS, Highland Correspondent
12:59am Saturday 21st June 2008

An Iraq war hero dramatically tried to flee court after he was
convicted of the "savage, merciless, and pointless" murder of a
Bangladeshi waiter 14 years ago.

Black Watch soldier Michael Ross was 15 when he entered a restaurant
on Orkney and shot Shamsuddin Mahmood in front of customers because of
the colour of his skin.

After being found guilty yesterday at the High Court in Glasgow, Ross,
now 29, leapt from the dock. There were gasps from the public gallery
as he veered towards the jury before leaving by a side door, pursued
by police officers and court officials.

He was wrestled to the ground in the corridor by a court official and
handcuffed as he sat on the floor, before being taken from the court
to prison.

His desperate attempt to escape came after the jury of 10 women and
five men took less than a day's deliberation to convict him of murder
and attempting to defeat the ends of justice, on a majority verdict.

Judge Lord Hardie told Ross, a first offender, that he would not be
sentenced until July 11 because a social inquiry report was required.

Police later confirmed Ross had become the main suspect soon after the
murder of the Bangladeshi waiter at the Mumutaz Indian restaurant in
Kirkwall in June 1994, only two months after Mr Mahmood arrived on

They were sure it had been Ross who had walked into the restaurant
that evening wearing a balaclava, but did not have enough evidence to
charge him.

The breakthrough came in 2006 when a new witness, William Grant, came
forward, saying he had seen Ross in public toilets in Kirkwall with a
balaclava and a weapon on the night of the killing, and felt obliged
to tell police.

Detective Inspector Iain Smith, the senior investigating officer,
said: "That was the spur for us to reopen the inquiry."

Asked why it took Mr Grant so long to come forward, he replied: "I
have no idea why, but we are grateful that he did." It has been
suggested Mr Grant feared for his safety, particularly given that
Ross's father, Edmund, was a serving police officer at the time of the

Mr Smith expressed delight yesterday that, after 14 years, Ross had
finally been brought to justice for this "shocking and sickening

He said a racist motive became increasingly apparent from witness
evidence and items recovered from Ross's home, including a notebook
with racist writing on it.

"At the time, there was great difficulty in establishing a motive. It
was a senseless crime. It was only through the inquiry, through the
years, that we had been able to come to the conclusion in all
probability this was a racially motivated crime."

Ross had been questioned first as a witness and then as a suspect, and
had changed his testimony which had been significant, "but he didn't
come close to confessing".

Asked if Ross joined the Army to continue racist killings, Mr Smith
said: "You have to second-guess him. I can't say what his reason was
for joining the Army.

"He was extremely keen in firearms and shooting, as was his father and
brother. It became apparent from his cadet days and has followed him
through his career."

Asked about his father lying to protect his son while a serving
officer, Mr Smith said: "It is a decision he has made as a father
protecting his son. Given his position as a police officer, that was
an extremely frustrating scenario."

Mr Smith said Ross's actions in trying to escape "spoke volumes".

Mr Mahmood's brother, Abul Shafuddin, sent a statement from
Bangladesh. It read: "Justice has been done. The family feel happy
with the verdict and happy with the performance of the police. We are
grateful to all who worked to bring the accused to trial."

Andrew Laing, area procurator-fiscal for the Highland and Islands,
said: "This was a callous murder of an innocent young man who was well
known and liked within the town. This cowardly act shocked not only
the local community but people throughout Scotland."

Advocate-depute Brian McConnachie had described the murder as "savage,
merciless, and pointless", but Donald Findlay QC, defending, brought
forward several black soldiers Ross had served alongside in Iraq, who
spoke of his brave actions on the frontline.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the Army was aware of the
conviction, but said it would be inappropriate to comment until the
judge had passed sentence.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Court Service said it would be carrying out a
full review of the circumstances surrounding Ross's attempted escape.

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