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MQM founder’s terrorism speech trial to begin next year

LONDON: Self-exiled Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain will be going to trial in the UK from next year for hate speech charges.

According to a report published by a local media outlet, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that the MQM founder’s trial will start on January 31, 2022, and last for about three weeks.

Altaf Hussain had asked for an indefinite delay in his trial, citing serious health issues and COVID-19 plague restrictions, the report said. The CPS confirmed that Hussain’s trial had already been postponed twice before because of the pandemic and his own health issues.

Earlier, he spent nearly a month in hospital from mid-December last year to January 12, 2021, after being taken in an ambulance for suffering “serious” COVID-19 symptoms.

After returning home, Hussain fell ill again a week later and spent another week in the hospital. His doctors had told the court he suffered from a severe form of infection in multiple organs along with pneumonia.

Since the last four months, the MQM founder has been doing well and has made several live speeches to his followers on social media.

Altaf Hussain was charged under section 1(2) of the Terrorism Act 2006, by Crown Prosecution Service for inciting terrorism during a speech he made in August 2016. He could face a sentence of 15 years, if convicted, entailing a fine.

He was granted bail in September 2019 by the court, conditioning restrictions to broadcasting speeches, limited movement outside his residence, warning against an application for a travel permit and custody of passport to the police.

This is the first offense he has been charged with in the UK, where he’s been living in self-imposed exile since 1991. While his party affirms his innocence, citing allegations against him are fraudulent.

UK authorities launched the investigations into the matter after an FIR was lodged in Karachi naming the MQM leader as the instigator.

In November 2020, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Nasir Mahmood Butt were added to the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) ‘Most Wanted Terrorists list.

The anti-terrorism wing of the Federal Investigation Agency has released a list of 1,210 terrorism suspects, which it deems most notorious. Known as the FIA’s Red Book, the list also includes the names of Iftikhar Hussain, Muhammad Anwar, and Kashif Kamran, who — alongside Hussain — are accused of murdering MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq.

Others listed include suspects wanted in the assassination of late Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada and the kidnapping of former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani’s son Ali Haider.

The 198-page document also lists the names and profiles of those allegedly involved in carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Curiously enough, however, the document also lists PML-N London leader Nasir Mahmood Butt as a ‘most wanted terrorism suspect’.

According to the document, Butt’s name was added after anti-terrorism provisions were added to the case pertaining to the video scandal judge Arshad Malik was embroiled in.