Altaf Hussain’s bail extended, trial to start on June 1 next year

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LONDON: A London court on Friday extended the bail of Altaf Hussain (supremo of MQM) after hearing him during his appearance. A trial date was also set that day and a preliminary hearing will be held on March 20, 2020 while the trial will begin on June 1 accordingly.

Altaf Hussain appeared before Justice Sweeney in Court Number 3 at the Old Bailey crown court in ‘incitement to violence case’ against him. The whole proceedings lasted for about 20 minutes, started at 10.30am. Arguments continued between defence lawyer and Crown Prosecution Lawyer. Earlier, on October 10, a Magistrates court passed his case to this court for trial.

On October 11, Hussain was formally charged by the Crown Prosecution Service under Section 1(2) of the Terrorism Act 2006 for encouraging terrorism during a speech he made in August 2016. If convicted, he could face a maximum prison sentence of 15 years along with a fine.

The court last month had granted him bail based on conditions, which include restrictions to broadcasting speeches, a curfew which limits his movements outside his residence, a warning against application for a travel permit and the custody of his passport to police.

This is the first time the MQM supremo has been charged with any offence in the United Kingdom, where he has been living in self-imposed exile since 1991. The move comes as a blow to the party, which has maintained that Hussain is innocent and that the allegations against him are fabricated.