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UK team probing Altaf’s speech questions Karachi police officials

Updated April 10, 2019

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According to sources, SO15 officers arrived in Islamabad on Sunday in connection with the investigation into the case and started interviewing the witnesses on Tuesday. — AFP/File
According to sources, SO15 officers arrived in Islamabad on Sunday in connection with the investigation into the case and started interviewing the witnesses on Tuesday. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: A team of the British metropolitan police’s counterterrorism command or SO15, which is investigating a speech made by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain in 2016, on Tuesday started interviewing and questioning officials of the Karachi police at the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) headquarters in Islamabad.

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

According to sources, SO15 officers arrived in Islamabad on Sunday in connection with the investigation into the case and started interviewing the witnesses on Tuesday.

Six officials of the Sindh police, who are considered important witnesses, had been directed to reach the FIA headquarters. They are: Sub-Inspector Abdul Ghaffar of SSP Office East Karachi, Inspector Hameed Khan of SSP Investigation Office South 1 Karachi, Deputy Superintendent of Police Sadar Kanwar Asif of SDPO Saddar, SHO Saddar, Karachi, Inspector Peer Shabbir Haider, Rao Rashid, constable of Police Station Saddar, and Qamar Zaman, constable of PS Artillery Maidan.

On Tuesday, the SO15 team interviewed three officials of the Sindh police and observed the investigation carried out by Pakistani authorities.

The sources said the SO15 team would collect evidence and interview key witnesses in the case.

According to the sources, the Sindh police officials, who had been called by the British experts, were posted in the Sadar Circle, Karachi, at the time when the MQM founder delivered a hate speech against Pakistan on Aug 22, 2016.

The officials will stay in the federal capital till Friday.

Comments made by the MQM founder in his speech ignited the crowd which later attacked offices of two media houses which were located in the same area. Enraged people in the crowd also assaulted police officials and set vehicles on fire.

The sources said the aim of the SO15 team was to obtain evidence in the form of written testimony from key witnesses to the event. The evidence collected by the SO15 team will be used to present a case to the Crown Prosecution Service and to ascertain whether there is sufficient material to progress a prosecution in UK courts.

They said all the police officials had been directed to bring with them certified copies of CCTV and video footages of the event. The Karachi police officials had brought with them the copies of photographs taken on that day and the statements of those who took the photographs, they added.

The MQM founder’s speech caught many people by surprise as he spoke against Pakistan. The then interior minister of Pakistan had sought the help of British authorities and asked them to take action against Mr Hussain.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2019