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London police team investigating Altaf Hussain’s speech to interview witnesses

Updated April 08, 2019

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The London Metropolitan Police team investigating a 2016 speech by Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain has reached Islamabad to interview key witnesses and collect evidence. — AFP/File
The London Metropolitan Police team investigating a 2016 speech by Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain has reached Islamabad to interview key witnesses and collect evidence. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The London Metropolitan Police team investigating a 2016 speech by Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain has reached Islamabad to interview key witnesses and collect evidence.

According to sources, a team from the police’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) will begin interviewing witnesses on Monday at Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) headquarters in Islamabad. All six police officials have been directed to reach the FIA’s Counter Terrorism Wing so witnesses may be briefed by the prosecutor.

Read: UK mulling hate speech charges against Altaf Hussain

Sources said the Met has been investigating an Aug 11, 2016, speech by Mr Hussain that led to a crowd dispersing and attacking media outlets in the vicinity. This resulted in further violence, including assaults of police officers and the burning of vehicles allegedly encouraged by Mr Hussain’s comments.

The minister for interior at the time had sought assistance from British authorities, and asked them to take action against Mr Hussain for “inciting people of Pakistan to violence”.

Read: Reference, evidences against Altaf Hussain sent to UK by interior ministry

The team aims to retrieve evidence in the form of written testimony from key witnesses to the events, which took place on August 22 that year. The evidence collected will be used to present a case to the Crown Prosecution Service to ascertain whether there is sufficient material to progress a prosecution in the British courts.

The witnesses called to appear before the police include Abdul Ghaffar, a sub-inspector at the Senior Superintendent of Police’s (SSP) East Karachi office, Inspector Hameed Khan from the SSP Investigation Office South-I Karachi, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Saddar Kanwar Asif, Saddar Station House Officer Inspector Peer Shabbir Haider, Saddar police Constable Rao Rashid and PS Artillery Maidan Constable Qamar Zaman.

All the police officials have been directed to bring with them certified copies of CCTV and video footage of the events of Aug 22, 2016, along with exhibiting statements that attest to the origin and chain of custody and continuity of the exhibits from those responsible for collecting.

They have also been asked to bring copies of all scene photography and their exhibits, and statements of witnesses who took those photographs.

The Karachi police officials have also been directed to bring with them other relevant material collected in the course of the investigation conducted in Pakistan, including witness statements, transcripts or recordings of police interviews with accused individuals, medical notes and photographs of the injured and original notes made by witnessing officers.

According to a senior police official, the police officials who were posted in the Saddar circle in August 2016 were called to Islamabad to appear before the British team.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2019