close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
March 22, 2020

Court told Altaf Hussain did not like Geo’s editorial stance on his politics

World

March 22, 2020

LONDON: The Old Bailey has heard from the lawyer of Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder and leader Altaf Hussain that the MQM supremo did not like the editorial stance of Geo News when he allegedly ordered his workers in August 2016 to attack several media houses in Karachi.

Altaf Hussain’s lawyer Joel Bennathan told the court on Friday that Altaf Hussain was upset and agitated at the way Geo News and two other channels — Samaa and ARY – censored his speeches and did not provide him coverage prior to Hussain’s August 16, 2016 address.

Honourable Mrs Justice May DBE heard arguments from both the defence and prosecution lawyers after Altaf Hussain made an application to the court for the complete dismissal of the charges against him. The MQM founder did not appear in person due to coronavirus outbreak. The court gave him exemption from personal appearance as Hussain had told the court that he is in a frail condition.

The judge rejected the application of Altaf Hussain for the dismissal of charges related to incitement of terrorism maintaining that a trial will go ahead in summer this year and only a jury will decide whether or not the MQM supremo is guilty.

Mark Haywood and Jonathan Polnay represented the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The legal team of Hussain argued that the charges were not right, not in accordance with the anti-terrorism laws and not appropriate and therefore should be dismissed. Hussain’s lawyer said that the MQM founder had made the speech only for “political purposes” and did not encourage terrorism and did not mean to do anything violent including damage to properties or intimidations of opponents or any state institution or the media house. He said the MQM supreme was only “unhappy” with Geo News and two other channels because “these stations had “stopped speeches of Altaf Hussain as a matter of policy over killings of his workers”. He was annoyed that he was not given his due share, said the lawyer of Hussain. He told the judge that Hussain’s speech was not designed to intimidate public and damage property. He told the court that Scotland Yard did not arrest Hussain under anti-terrorism laws and decided to charge him only after an “intense period of lobbying by the Pakistan government after the arrest”.

Hussain’s lawyer suggested to the judge that Pakistani government is influencing the CPS case and Pakistani lawyer Toby Cadman should not be sitting in this trial. The lawyer said he did not understand why Cadman was sitting in the trial. The prosecutors told the court that charges against Hussain should stay and a trial set for mid summer this year should go ahead. They told the judge that Hussain had openly incited violence against the officials of Rangers, police and media.

Hussain, 66-year-old 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.

A statement by Scotland Yard said at the time of charging the MQM founder: “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. 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 UK authorities launched the investigations into the matter after an FIR was lodged in Karachi naming the MQM leader as the instigator.