Altaf released after 'no comment' interview

LONDON: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain was released on bail Wednesday evening after refusing to answer questions of detectives from Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command unit by opting for “no comment”.

A official told media that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advised the police sufficient evidence didn’t exist in the file placed before the prosecutors and charged couldn’t be allowed until further evidence is furnished.

Hussain will remain on police bail at his home address, bail conditions will apply on him 24-hours and he will be returning to the same police station after about six weeks.

At the Southwark Police Station, Hussain’s interview started at 10 pm on Tuesday night and continued for two hours till midnight. The MQM founder only confirmed his name, date of birth and his residential address. Onwards, he refused to answer questions of the police and decided to go for “no comment” option in response to all questions asked by the detectives, credible official familiar with the development confided to media.

Altaf Hussain’s lawyers, present on the occasion, advised Hussain not to answer questions of the police. They told the police that their client will answer questions only before an independent judge and jury if charged and not before the police.

The official revealed the interview was stopped at midnight after Hussain complained of pain in his chest and that he wasn’t feeling well. The interview started again at 10am BST (2pm PST) and finished at 2pm. An hour later, he was released on police bail pending further inquiries.

The lawyer for the Government of Pakistan Toby Cadman had informed media that according to the material he has seen, there is sufficient evidence to charge MQM founder Altaf Hussain.

UK-based Cadman was hired by the Government of Pakistan for representation in MQM-related cases.

“I have seen the evidence, I have reviewed all the evidence from Pakistani authorities and I can say that it presents a compelling case. It is my assessment that there is sufficient evidence to charge Altaf Hussain on a number of counts,” Cadman told this scribe.

The lawyer termed the arrest of Altaf Hussain an important step and a decision whether he would be facing charges would be made quickly.

“Ordinarily a decision is made 24 hours after the arrest and then we would expect him to be produced before a magistrate and then formal proceedings to start from thereon,” Cadman added.

Altaf Hussain was arrested on Tuesday in a raid at his London residence by Scotland Yard. The MQM founder was arrested in relation to the hate speech of 2016. According to Scotland Yard, he has been arrested on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007. Hussain maintains his innocence and denies issuing calls of violence.

The Scotland Yard said a man in his 60s, arrested in connection with an investigation into a number of speeches made by an individual associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan, has been bailed to return to a police station in mid-July.

“The man was arrested at an address in north west London on Tuesday, June 11. He was arrested on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007,” it said in a statement. “He was detained under PACE and taken to a south London police station.”

As part of the investigation, the London metropolitan police said, officers carried out a search at the north-west London address and at a separate commercial address in north-west London, adding that both the searches were now complete.

“The investigation, which is being led by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, is focused on a speech broadcast in August 2016 by an individual associated with the MQM movement in Pakistan, as well as other speeches previously broadcast by the same person,” the statement read further.

“Throughout the investigation, officers have been liaising with Pakistani authorities in relation to our ongoing enquiries. Enquiries continue,” it added.