London [UK]: A London court on Friday extended the bail of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain in connection with a 2016 hate speech case where he had allegedly urged his supporters to take the law into their hands.
Hussain appeared before Justice Nigel Sweeney at the Central Criminal Court where it ruled that a preliminary hearing in the case will be held 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 MQM chief was charged with a terrorism offence in connection with the case. If convicted, he could face a jail term of 15 years along with a fine.
During that hearing, he pleaded not guilty, following which Judge Emma Arbuthnot granted him conditional bail.
Sixty six-year-old Hussain is barred from addressing crowds for fear of instigating them and is bound to stay at the designated address under curfew conditions from morning to evening. Hussain cannot leave the UK without police permission either.
Since the 1990s, Hussain has been living in the UK in a self-imposed exile following a crackdown on his party in Pakistan. He later gained 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.
He has been accused by his opponents of encouraging his party workers to indulge in violence.
Pakistani 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.