LONDON–London police has extended Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s bail till July 2015 after he was interviewed for more than five hours by investigating officers on Tuesday.
Earlier, the MQM chief accompanied by MQM leaders Babar Ghauri, Farooq Sattar, other members of the Rabita Committee, and his legal team, had arrived at the police station at 10:00am London time in relation to a money laundering investigation conducted by the London Metropolitan Police.
Outside the police station, Altaf Hussain spoke to media saying he wanted all of Pakistan to pray for him. He was surrounded by security personnel, and appeared not to be in the best of health. He told media he was well, and hopeful that he would emerge victorious.
He said “Pakistan zindabad”, and said ‘Salam’ to all Pakistanis.
Babar Ghauri and Barrister Saif, who were with him, declined to comment at the time. The MQM members who accompanied him to the police station had left the premises after seeing him off.
The party maintains that Hussain arrived at Southwark Police Station “by appointment” and was interviewed by officers from the British Metropolitan Police.
Earlier today, while addressing party workers and activists gathered at Azizabad’s Jinnah Ground in Karachi, Altaf Hussain had asked his supporters to pray for him, and said that one has to undergo tests in a political struggle. He also urged his followers to remain calm.
At the police station, Hussain will either be charged or granted bail. If the police have gathered enough evidence against him, it would be possible to charge him, but if they are dissatisfied with the evidence, they may grant him bail.
If he is charged with a crime, he will remain in police custody at the station overnight, before being presented before the district judge of the Westminster Magistrate Courts within the next 24 hours.
The Magistrate Courts have the power to either send him to jail on remand while investigations continue, or grant him bail if there is insufficient evidence against him.
If in the presence of a legal team, Hussain claims that he is unfit to answer questions or give a statement, his request may be accepted and he could be granted relief. However, this is only possible once a medical team on the premises deems him unfit after conducting a checkup. If he is determined unfit, the police may give a relief period depending on the severity of his condition, but if he is fit, the police would proceed to record his statement.
The legal team may have been informed two days earlier by the charge officer at the station whether Altaf Hussain will be charged or granted bail, but the police’s decision has not yet been made public.
The MQM supremo was arrested on June 3, 2014 during the course of a money laundering investigation initiated in July 2013 by the London Metropolitan Police, prompting thousands of people in Karachi to stage a sit-in calling for his release.
He was then shifted to Wellington Hospital over concerns to his health and underwent angiography and other tests. Having been discharged from the hospital, Hussain was taken to the Southwark police station where he was questioned for nine hours.
He was released on bail four days after his arrest in 2014, and granted two bail extensions – the first in July 2014 and the second on Dec 3, 2014. His bail extension is expiring today.
During their investigations, the London Metropolitan Police had discovered ‘a considerable amount of money’ during raids on Hussain’s residence and office in London.
A statement from the police had said that the cash was found when a counter-terrorism unit of police raided Hussain’s office on Dec 6, 2012 under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in connection with the investigation of Dr Imran Farooq murder case.
In 2010, Imran Farooq, one of MQM’s founding members and a confidant of Hussain, was murdered in London.
The MQM chief’s visit to the police station coincides with the presentation of a primary suspect in Dr Imran Farooq’s murder case in a Karachi court, as per an announcement made by Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday.
MQM’s senior London-based leader Mohammad Anwar, was also arrested on April 1 by London Metropolitan Police in connection to the money laundering case. He was released on bail after ten hours of custody.
Anwar’s arrest had come three weeks after a raid on the MQM’s Nine-Zero headquarters in Karachi.
Living in self-exile for over two decades, Hussain gained British citizenship in 2002 after leaving Pakistan in the early 1990s when a military operation was launched to end ethnic unrest in Karachi.
Sep 28, 2016 0
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