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Hate speech probe against Altaf Hussain: London Police team in Pakistan to interview key witnesses

RAWALPINDI: A London Metropolitan Police team investigating a 2016 speech by Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain is in Pakistan to interview key witnesses in the case.

The team has reached Islamabad which will collect evidence in the hate speech case.

The team from Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) of Metropolitan Police will start interviewing witnesses from today (Monday) at the 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.

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 the 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”.

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 Crowd 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.