Police seek more time to testify in hate speech case

London police team arrives in Islamabad to conduct investigation into MQM-L chief Altaf Hussain's Aug 22 speech

Nasir Butt/iftikhar Chaudhry April 08, 2019
MQM flag

KARACHI: A police team from London on Monday visited the FIA Headquarter to record the statement of six witnesses of the Sindh police in the hate speech case against Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London chief Altaf Hussain.

According to sources, the six officers of the Sindh police could not make it to Islamabad though the FIA had summoned them and sent a letter to the Sindh IGP seeking their presence along with the relevant record.

Sources said the police officers sought more time to record their statement.

Hussain had delivered a fiery speech during his address to the party workers on August 22, 2016 after which the workers vandalised a media office in Karachi and chanted anti-Pakistan slogans.

On Saturday, an investigation officer 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 a London police team had arrived in Islamabad and police officials dealing with the case had been directed to immediately rush to Islamabad along with material evidence to appear before the London police team.

In a letter addressed to the Sindh police chief on April 3, the FIA's CTW said, "SO15 Counter Terrorism Command, Metropolitan Police, UK, is conducting investigation into speech made by Hussain on August 22, 2016. During the speech, comments made by 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, "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 August 22, 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 to appear before the UK police team include SI Abdul Ghaffar, Inspector Hameed Khan, DSP Sardar Kanwar Asif, Inspector Pir 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 includes certified copies of CCTV and video footages of the events which occurred on August 22, copies of all scene photography and their exhibits and statements of witnesses who took these photographs, and all other relevant material gathered in the course of the investigations conducted in Pakistan.

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.

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 the 49th hearing and the counsel for accused Javed Shaukat was cross questioned on this statement on the 51st hearing on Saturday.

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