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Altaf Hussain appears at London Criminal Court

LONDON: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain is set to appear at the Central Criminal Court before the judge for the procedural hearing in the case brought against him by Crown Prosecution Service’s Counter Terrorism Division related to the incitement speech made in August 2016 from London to Karachi.

Accompanied by his colleagues from the MQM International Secretariat, the MQM founder arrived at the Old Bailey.

The hearing will determine the dates and time of trial and is likely to confirm that bail restrictions imposed on the MQM leader have been relaxed. 

Geo News had reported last week that the MQM founder has been allowed to use social media to limited extent and he’s also allowed to speak to his followers but on social terms.

Six weeks ago, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court had banned the MQM founder Altaf Hussain from appearing on any form of media in the UK or Pakistan, after Scotland Yard charged him with a terrorism offence in the incitement speech inquiry against him. 

At the same hearing it was announced that he will be appearing on 1st November 2019 at the Central Criminal Court, famously known as Old Bailey.

Hussain, a 66-year-old Pakistani political exile living in London for more than two decades, was charged with encouraging terrorism after a speech he made in 2016 to supporters in Karachi, which was also followed by violent protests. 

He faces several years in imprisonment for the speech which was “likely to be understood” as encouraging supporters to acts of terrorism, or was “reckless” of the possible consequences.

A statement by Scotland Yard after charging the MQM founder said: “Hussain, 66, who lives in Mill Hill, north London, was charged under the Terrorism Act 2006. 

On 22 August 2016 published a speech to crowds gathered in Karachi, Pakistan which were likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom they were published as a direct or indirect encouragement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and at the time he published them, intended them to be so encouraged, or was reckless as to whether they would be so encouraged.”

The Met Police said: “Hussain was previously arrested on 11 June on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007. He was released on bail and subsequently charged as above.”

The charges relate to 22nd August 2016 speech which was made from London by Hussain and the violence that erupted in Karachi after the speech. That speech was relayed over loudspeakers in which the MQM founder asked his followers to attack media houses in the city.

Hussain was charged for Intentionally Encouraging or Assisting Offences, Contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 in relation to his August 16, 2016 speech from London and the violence that followed in Karachi because of that speech.

The MQM founder was arrested on June 11, 2019, during a dawn raid at his home and taken to a south London police station. 

Scotland Yard at the time had said Hussain had been arrested on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

The UK authorities launched the investigations into the matter after an FIR was lodged in Karachi naming the MQM leader as the instigator. Pakistan then approached the UK to investigate the case.

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