LONDON: The Kingston-upon-Thames crown court on Thursday heard the prosecution’s opening statement in the incitement to violence trial involving Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) supremo Altaf Hussain.
Mr Hussain was present in the court when the jury was informed of the prosecution’s case and taken through the evidence as well as the charge against the MQM leader.
The prosecution’s statement rested on two speeches made by the MQM founder on August 22, 2016 in which he first allegedly ordered crowds to assemble and later told them to charge the Sindh Rangers headquarters, as well as offices of the ARY, Geo and Samaa television channels.
The prosecution said Mr Hussain made telephone calls to different people in his party from his London office and railed against the situation he and the MQM were in. “His invitation to them was to gather, and in due course, to take action,” the jury heard.
The statement rested on two speeches made by MQM founder in 2016
The prosecution also described how the Lahore High Court had placed a ban on broadcasting speeches made by Mr Hussain, and that he repeatedly referred to it when he addressed crowds on Aug 22, 2016.
The jury was told that Mr Hussain called on his workers to assemble outside the Karachi Press Club in protest against the media ban, and to observe a hunger strike. The court also heard how Mr Hussain allegedly demanded that the crowds should gather, and that he wanted to know how many sectors could be mobilised so between 100,000 and 500,000 people could congregate on foot to head towards the Rangers headquarters.
After this, Mr Hussain allegedly said his supporters should head to the Geo and ARY offices and to not allow them to function.
“This was no mere rhetoric, no mere volatile words, because actions later that day show what he actually said. In a galvanising series of words and speeches, what he wanted people to do was assemble in order to take physical action,” the jury heard.
The prosecution lawyer described how Mr Hussain instructed party workers in Federal B Area, Gulshan, Baldia Town, Shah Faisal Colony and Malir to assemble before commanding them to move on to the alleged targets.
The prosecution told the jury that in order to find that a terrorism offence was committed, they must be satisfied as to its nature, design and purpose.
The prosecution said Mr Hussain invited these acts in his addresses. The lawyer said the speeches were “nakedly political” and amounted to encouragement of acts of the kind that translate to acts of terrorism.
The question for the jury, the prosecution said, was whether the speeches were likely to be understood as encouragement and whether the intention for harm existed or was foreseen.
The hearing was adjourned late in the afternoon, and will resume on Friday (today).
Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2022