Prosecution cross-examines police witness in Altaf Hussain trial

Published February 8, 2022
MQM supremo Altaf Hussain leaves his house for his court hearing on Monday. — Photo courtesy Mustafa Azizabadi Twitter
MQM supremo Altaf Hussain leaves his house for his court hearing on Monday. — Photo courtesy Mustafa Azizabadi Twitter

LONDON: A detective constable from the Met Police’s counter-terrorism department was cross-examined at the Kingston-upon-Thames court on Monday, as the incitement to viol­e­nce trial against MQM supremo Altaf Hussain entered its second week.

The officer informed the court about evidence retrieved during a raid at the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s international secretariat at Edgware, London, in 2019.

The officer spoke of the recovery of a BT enterprise voice recorder, which was later examined forensically for its digital contents. The recorder was capable of making and recording audio calls that were made to and from the London secretariat.

The language used in most of the calls was Urdu, so investigators then took the assistance of translators and interpreters to create a chronological timeline and transcript.

During the cross-examination, the prosecution and police witness referred to the contents of the recorder, as well as audio cassette tapes that were recovered by the police. Notebooks recovered from the office were also used to compile this timeline. The prosecution referred to this evidence to establish encouragement of violence.

Officer shares details of evidence collected from MQM’s secretariat

Altaf Hussain has been charged under Section 1(2) of the Terrorism Act 2006 of inciting violence during a speech made on August 22, 2016.

It was revealed that a letter of re­­q­uest was sent by the Crown Prosecu­tion Service during its investigation to Pakistani authorities in early 2019, and that the officer visited Pakistan as part of the probe where certain items were made available to them.

The transcripts of the recorded calls were heavily referenced during the hearing, with a detailed reading out of the conversation between Mr Hussain and MQM leader Amir Khan.

Mr Hussain repeatedly spoke of the extra-judicial killings of MQM workers, “fixing” the Sindh police, and charging on the Rangers headquarters in Karachi to confront then DG Rangers Bilal Akbar.

“DG Rangers must be arrested for the murder of 60 men. I need 500,000 people to shove inside Rangers HQ and get Bilal Akbar out,” Mr Hussain allegedly said during one of the calls.

In other calls with party workers, the transcript showed unknown men saying that “if Bhai order, it shall be done today”.

Mr Hussain at one point in the transcript also said: “The TV channels who abuse MQM, tell them to take their camera and leave.” He expressed anger at Geo and ARY specifically, and threatened to have their “heads paraded on donkeys”.

Mr Hussain in these calls made multiple requests to sector-in-charges of Gulshan, Korangi and Malir to bring “50,000 people each” so that a large crowd can be assembled.

“Even if 100, or 200 or 500 get martyred, DG Rangers should be taken out as he has martyred hundreds of our workers,” the transcript quoted Mr Hussain as saying.

“It is better to die once than die every day,” Mr Hussain said, in the transcript. “Let’s see how many more of us they can kill, let them kill as many as they can in a day so we can be on jihad.”

The hearing was adjourned after a video of Mr Hussain addressing workers was played for members of the jury.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2022

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