Saturday May 22 2021

MQM founder Altaf Hussain to be on trial in UK next year for hate speech

  • MQM founder Altaf Hussain's terrorism speech trial starts January 31, 2022, UK's Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed.
  • He was charged under the Terrorism Act, 2006 on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the UK's Serious Crimes Act, 2007.
  • MQM founder made speech only for “political purposes” and didn’t encourage terrorism, his lawyer has argued.

LONDON: Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain will go on trial in January next year at the UK's Kingston Crown Court for allegedly using hate speech and encouraging an act of terrorism.

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

The MQM founder had sought to delay his trial indefinitely, citing serious health issues and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, sources said.

Read more: MQM founder Altaf Hussain charged with terrorism offence, banned from all forms of media

The CPS confirmed that Hussain’s trial had 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 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 a 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 three months, the MQM founder has been doing well and has made several live speeches to his followers on social media.

Case background

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

Read more: Altaf Hussain ‘rapidly’ recovering from coronavirus, MQM London says

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

At that hearing, Hussain’s lawyer had applied for the complete dismissal of the hate speech charges against his client, but his application was dismissed. 

Hussain’s lawyer said that the MQM founder had made the speech only for “political purposes”, didn’t encourage terrorism and didn’t mean to do anything violent, damage properties, intimidate opponents or any state institution or media house.

Read more: Altaf claims financial ruin after six properties frozen

Hussain, 67, has been charged under the Terrorism Act, 2006 on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act, 2007.

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