A WITNESS has claimed Fiaz Munshi was a “puppet master” who manipulated others into carrying out an arson attack which killed two children.
The 38-year-old is on trial at Oxford Crown Court accused of murdering eight-year-old Anum Khan and her 15-year-old brother Majid, in the early hours of August 26, 1997.
Yesterday, the jury heard evidence from Sunder Khutan, who said he travelled with Munshi and her alleged co-conspiritors into Oxford on the night of the fire.
Five men have already been jailed in connection with the blaze, which started after petrol was poured through the letterbox of a house in Magdalen Road, East Oxford.
Questioned about the crime, Mr Khutan said he was close friends of brothers Haq and Mohammed Nawaz, who are both serving life sentences for murder.
He told the jury they asked him to come on the “mission” to Oxford to beat someone up, and he drove with Munshi, her sister Riaz and Haq Nawaz.
Asked by prosecutor Neil Moore what Fiaz Munshi was like as a person he replied: “Manipulative, she used to manipulate people.” He added: “When we got to Oxford she pointed out the house.
“She was a puppet master.
“It was her rage and hatred that caused it. If her rage and hatred weren’t there this wouldn’t have happened. This killing of those two kids.”
The prosecution alleges that the blaze was planned by the group – including Munshi – because they resented the Khan family after their friend Anjad Ali Khan – older brother of the dead children – had been jailed for dealing heroin.
Shahnaz Akhtar and Nazmeen Khan are sisters of the fire’s victims and earlier in the trial gave evidence about two fights involving the defendant before the blaze.
Mr Khutan said on the night of the killings Munshi was acting like a “psychopath” in the car before the fire and brandishing a Stanley knife.
He said: “She was going ‘I’m going to get that f******* bitch. I’m going to cut her fingers off. I’m going to slice her face’.
“She was violent like a psychopath. And I thought, like, it was a bit over the top.
“She said: ‘I’m going to make sure her house gets burned down’. That is what she said. I remember that.
“She was hell-bent on killing someone.”
He added that he was not sure who the threats were aimed at, but assumed it was one of the sisters.
Mr Khutan said he saw Thomas Liedl and Alan Swanton, who are also both serving life, run off after starting the fire, but didn’t see the flames.
He also admitted having numerous previous convictions for violence and dishonestly, as well as having been sectioned and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Asked why he had decided to give evidence he replied: “These people done wrong, so it’s my prerogative, it is my duty, to do something right.”
The trial continues.