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May 23, 2021

Altaf’s trial on hate speech next year

LONDON: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain will go on trial in relation to the hate speech trial in January next year at the Kingston Crown Court.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed to The News and Geo that Altaf Hussain’s trial will start on January 31, 2022 and will last for about three weeks.

Sources have told this correspondent that the MQM founder had sought to delay his terrorism speech trial indefinitely citing serious health issues and the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that Altaf Hussain’s trial has been postponed twice before, because of the pandemic and his own health issues.

The MQM leader spent nearly a month in Barnet Hospital from mid December to January 12, 2021 after he was taken there in an ambulance over serious coronavirus symptoms. After returning home, Altaf fell ill again a week later and spent a week in the hospital.

His doctors had told the court he suffered from a severe form of infection with multiple organs involvement along with cover pneumonia. Altaf has been doing fine over the last three months and has made several live speeches to his followers on social media.

Altaf’s last court appearance, virtually, was at the Old Bailey around a year ago where his lawyer told Mrs Justice May DBE that the MQM supremo didn’t like the editorial stance of a news channel when he ordered his workers in August 2016 to attack several media houses in the port city of Karachi.

His lawyer Joel Bennathan had told the court that Altaf Hussain was upset and agitated at the way three TV channels censored his speeches and didn’t provide him coverage prior to his infamous August 16, 2016 address which ultimately led to the unravelling of his party and politics.

At that hearing, Altaf’s lawyer had applied for the complete dismissal of the hate speech charges against him but his application was dismissed. The judge had ordered that the trial shall be held in July of last year and a jury will make a decision only.

His lawyer say that the MQM founder had made the speech only for “political purposes” and didn’t encourage terrorism and didn’t mean to do anything violent including damage to properties or intimidations of opponents or any state institution or the media house.

Altaf, 67, was charged under the Terrorism Act 2006 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.