A FORMER major in the Pakistani army is desperate to clear his name after finding himself on the international list of wanted criminals at Interpol.
Syed Hamid Raza Shah, 48, of Lilian Close, moved to Swindon in 2012 after fleeing from his native country, and now finds himself sharing space with some of the most hunted drug traffickers and fraudsters.
Shocked to discover his name and face plastered over the Interpol website with a red notice for arrest on charges of fraud and misrepresentation, Hamid went straight to the Interpol offices at New Scotland Yard last November to hand himself in.
The organisation turned him away at the door saying they had no authority to arrest him and sent him back to his local police force. Heading to Gablecross later that day, Hamid was informed he would not be arrested.
Interpol has said the red notice listed on its website is not an international arrest warrant, and it is down to member countries to interpret the listing as they see fit. Hamid has an arrest warrant out in his name in Pakistan but is unable to travel due to the listing.
Hamid said: “One day someone called me and told me my name was on the Interpol list. I checked it and my name was there in black and white.
“I almost applied to be a school governor where my two boys go to school, so imagine the scandal if this had come out if I had got that position.
“This was last November, and I went straight to the Interpol offices in London. They told me to go back and contact my local police and then they could deal with it. From there I went to Swindon police station at Gablecross and said I wanted to fight my case.
“About a month later I phoned them again to chase it up and they advised me to go back to the Interpol office in London.
“Here I am, a wanted criminal in their eyes, and I am knocking on the door but I can’t hand myself in. It seems crazy.”
He has been liaising with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson and Foreign and Commonwealth minister Alistair Burt to get support for his position.
Irfan Sheikh, of Shafi and Irfan Law Associates in Bristol, has taken up Hamid’s case, and wrote to Interpol five months ago.
He wrote: “My client is struggling hard to settle in the UK for the safety of his family. The presence of his name on the wanted list is a stumbling block in the way of travelling, which is essential.”
A spokesman for Interpol said they do not discuss individual cases but applications can be made for them to investigate their listings.
They said: “A Red Notice is a request to provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition issued by the General Secretariat upon the request of a member country based on a valid national arrest warrant. A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant.
“Interpol cannot insist or compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice. Nor can Interpol require any member country to take any action in response to another member country’s request.”