UK police to probe into August 22 speech of MQM founder

Published: April 7, 2019
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 PHOTO: EXPRESS

PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: A major development took place in the cases relating to the vandalism attack on a media house and anti-Pakistan slogans following a fiery speech by Altaf Hussain on August 22, 2016.

The investigation officer (IO) on Saturday submitted a letter of the Counter Terrorism Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC-II) about the arrival of a London Metropolitan police team to investigate the case and gather evidence, if any, against the founder of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) who is now a British national.

The IO informed the court that London police team has already arrived in Islamabad and police officials dealing with the case have directed to immediately rush to Islamabad along with material evidence to appear before the London police team.

‘Affiliation with MQM founder isolated Muhajirs’

In a letter addressed to the Sindh police chief on April 3, the Counter Terrorism Wing of the FIA said “SO15 Counter Terrorism Command, Metropolitan Police, UK, is conducting investigation into speech made by Altaf Husain on 22nd August 2016. During speech comments made by Altaf Hussain directly led to the crowd dispersing and attacking media outlets in the near vicinity, which resulted in further violence, including assault on police officers and burning of vehicles, encouraged by comments made by Altaf Hussain.”

Informing about the arrival of UK police team in Islamabad on April 6, the letter further said that “the aim of the deployment is to retrieve evidence in the form of written testimony from key witnesses to the events which took place on 22 August 2016. The evidence will then be used to present a case to the Crown Prosecution Service to ascertain whether there is sufficient material to progress a prosecution in the UK courts.”

The police officials who have been directed appear before the UK police team include SI Abdul Ghaffar, Inspector Hameed Khan, DSP Sardar Kanwar Asif, Inspector Peer Shabbir Haider, Constable Rao Rasheed and Constable Qamar Zaman.

The Sindh police chief has also been directed to provide the material evidence relating to the case which include certified copies of CCTV and video footage of the events which occurred on August 22, copies of all scene photography  and their exhibits and statements of witnesses who took these photographs, all other relevant material gathered in the course of the investigations conducted in Pakistan.

The police officials who have been summoned have also been directed “to bring with them any record, notes, statements, exhibits, medical notes, photographs or documents or indeed material of any kind.”

It may be recalled that the first hearing of the two cases pertaining to August 22, 2016 incidents was held in ATC-II on October 7 and so far 51 hearings have taken place.

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There are 60 accused in this case who are on bail and these include  MQM’s deputy convener Amir Khan, Qamar Mansoor, Shahid Pasha, Gul Faraz Khattak, Kunwar Naveed Jameel and former leader DR Farooq Sattar. The eight other accused who are still at large include MQM founder, Aslam Afridi, Zakir Qureshi, Rafi Akbar, Akram Rajput, Arif Khan and Javed Kazmi.

Amir Khan and Farooq Sattar appeared before the ATC after the court on May 9, 2017 ordered the Rangers director-general (DG) to arrest them and produce before the court.

The accused were indicted in these cases on November 3, 2018 while the first witness Judicial Magistrate Kaleemullah Kalhoro recorded his statement on 49th hearing and the counsel for accused Javed Shaukat has cross questioned on this statement on 51st hearing on Saturday.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2019.

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