The London court extends Altaf Hussain's bond in the 2016 hate speech case

LONDON: A London court on Friday extended bail of Muttahida Qaumi movement The founder of MQM, Altaf Hussain, in connection with a case of hate speech of 2016 in which he allegedly urged his supporters to take the law into their hands.

Hussain appeared before Judge Nigel Sweeney in the Central Criminal Court, where he ruled that a preliminary hearing in the case will take place on March 20, 2020, and the trial will begin on June 1, The Dawn reported.

The development comes after the Westminster Magistrates Court, on October 10, passed the matter to the criminal court for trial.

On October 11, the head of MQM was charged with a terrorist offense in relation to the case. If convicted, he could face a 15-year prison sentence along with a fine.

During that hearing, he pleaded not guilty, after which Judge Emma Arbuthnot granted him a conditional bond.

Hussain, aged sixty-six, is prohibited from addressing the crowds for fear of instigating them and is obliged to remain at the designated address under curfew conditions from morning to afternoon. Hussain also cannot leave the United Kingdom without the permission of the police.

Since the 1990s, Hussain has been living in the United Kingdom in a self-imposed exile following an offensive against his party in Pakistan . He later obtained British citizenship.

Hussain regularly makes television addresses or telephone speeches to his supporters, where he criticises the Pakistan Army and ISI for alleged military oppression of Muhajirs.

His opponents accused him of encouraging his party workers to fall into violence.

Pakistan authorities have repeatedly sought the MQM chief's return to Pakistan to face trial in a number of murder and violence cases lodged against him.

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