The Crown Prosecution Service on Wednesday submitted evidence at the Kingston-upon-Thames crown court to support their case against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) supremo Altaf Hussain, who faces charges of inciting violence.
The charge under section 1(2) of the British Terrorism Act (TACT) 2006 relates to the encouragement of terrorism, which is defined as being intentional or reckless as to whether members of the public will be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate such acts or offences.
The charge as stated by the UK police is that Altaf had “on 22 August 2016 published a speech to crowds gathered in Karachi, Pakistan, which were likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom they were published as a direct or indirect encouragement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and at the time he published them, intended them to be so encouraged, or was reckless as to whether they would be so encouraged”.
During the hearing, 12 members of the jury took oath. They were read the charge against Altaf and informed that he had pleaded not guilty.
Before the jury took their seats, the prosecution spent most of the day introducing the evidence it had gathered to prove its charge. The evidence included maps of the offices of ARY and Samaa TV channels, as well as the Rangers headquarters on Ziauddin Ahmed Road and the press club.
Images and video footage were also submitted and some of it played in the court. They appeared to feature women party workers who could be heard saying they were waiting for a signal. Altaf’s voice and message were also featured in this footage.
The prosecution said they were listing this evidence to prove that, when taken together, it highlights how after Altaf’s instruction to the crowd led to the violence that followed.
Past news reports from that day allege that crowds ransacked two television stations in a rampage that left one person dead and eight injured. This allegedly occurred after Altaf criticised the media for not covering his speeches.
Lawyers at Corker Binning, who are defending Altaf, challenged the admission of certain footage and questioned its admissibility. The prosecution responded by saying that there is no dispute that unrest took place, and that the unrest took place due to receipt of an address which threatened civil order.
Both sides discussed admissibility of evidence at length before Mrs Justice May, with the hearing adjourned in the afternoon. The jury will receive the evidence and hear the prosecution’s arguments on Thursday.