September 07 , 2017
UK confirms seeking Pak help in hate-speech cases against Altaf
LONDON: Scotland Yard has confirmed that an ‘International Letter of Request’ has been sent by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to the Pakistani authorities seeking help in its investigations in relation to at least two speeches made by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s founder and leader Altaf Hussain.
Speaking to The News, a spokesman of Scotland Yard said that a letter under “Mutual Legal Assistance” has been sent to Pakistan’s “competent authorities” in relation to two speeches made by the MQM leader on Mr Hussain on March 11, 2015 and Aug 22, 2016.
“We have written to Pakistan in connection with an ongoing Metropolitan Police Services (MPS) investigation into speeches by an individual associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan. Due to the nature of the investigation the content of the request is confidential and therefore we are unable to provide specific details,” the spokesman told this scribe, referring to the London-based MQM leader.
He added: “The investigation into a speech broadcast in August 2016 by this individual and other speeches previously broadcast by the same person continues to ascertain if any crimes have been committed under UK legislation.”
Both the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Scotland Yard have confirmed that a criminal investigation against the MQM chief started on 20th of March 2015 by the Metropolitan Police Services following the lodging of a First Information Report (FIR) by the Pakistani authorities but “at this stage no-one has been charged”.
The ‘Letter of Request’ obtained by Geo News shows that Pakistani help has been sought under “Articles 2 and 3 of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of serious crimes.
Scotland Yard has made it clear that the MQM leader is under investigation but currently there are no charges against him but the police says its assessing his speeches – which Pakistan says incited hatred and violence inside Pakistan instigated from London by Mr Hussain – under the following offences: encouraging violent disorder under Section 2 Public Order Act 1986; use of word or behaviour or display of written material under Section 18 Public Order 1986; inciting others to commit terrorism outside England and Wales under Section 59 Terrorism Act 2000; encouragement of Terrorism under Section 1 Terrorism Act 2006; internationally encouraging or assisting an offence under Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.
The letter informs Pakistani authorities that the investigation is known as “Operation Demerit and the purpose of this investigation is to secure evidence in connection with” Altaf Hussain.
In the “summary of facts”, the British letter refers to 11th March 2015 raid by the Rangers on at 90 Azizabad, Karachi, during which MQM worker Waqas Shah was killed.
The CPS letter says that Altaf Hussain appeared on Geo News on the same date and spoke to Shahzeb Khanzada for ‘aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath’ and said the Rangers involved in the raid will cease to exist. “The interview was live broadcast, with Mr Hussain being interviewed over the telephone or internet, with a picture of him superimposed next to the newsreader,” says the CPS letter.
It confirms that on 20th March 2015 Pakistani authorities lodged a complaint with the Met Police in the form of an FIR “requesting that consideration be given to Mr Hussain being investigated because of comments he made during interview”.
The letter says that on 22 August 2016 Altaf Hussain addresse da crowd at the Karachi Press Club by telephone or similar means, following which there was violence. “Towards the end of the speech, he seemed to be encouraging the audience to go and attack local media stations, the Sindh Police and the Sindhi government offices and Secretariat”. According to the CPS, the protesters attacked a local news channel and “as a result of the violence, one person was killed and several others were injured.” The document names the victim as Arif Saeed.
The request letter requests Pakistan to handover a large amount of evidence in various forms so that it could assess if this material could be used for prosecution and to bring charges against Altaf Hussain. This includes copies of investigation files on Altaf Hussain speeches; Sindh Police file; the Sindh Counter terror police investigation file, the FIA file; the Sindh Rangers file; details of any suspects in relation to the incident on 11 March 2015 and 22nd August 2016; witness statements; audio and visual messages and recordings; statements from any pathologists regarding to Waqas Shah’s death; and any other information that could be helpful.
The document goes on to explain to Pakistan that it needs all the evidence it can to ensure that proper investigation could be done in Britain but it warns that there should be no altering or tampering with any of the original documents and no new paper or evidence should be created and all the computers and equipment used originally for the recording of evidence should be preserved.
The MQM made had no comment at the time of filing of this report.