UK barrister explains why charges against Altaf dropped


Barrister Ameer Abbas Khan | Guest post

The news: British investigative agency Scotland Yard has decided to drop the money-laundering investigation against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, businessman Sarfraz Merchant, MQM leader M Anwar and others.

There is insufficient evidence to prove that the money seized at Altaf’s house was the proceeds of crime, says the Scotland Yard. His party leader’s tweet:

The perspective: No doubt, for a layman, its very hard to apprehend that how come a decision not to prosecute Altaf Hussain is taken for money laundering accusations when half a million pounds were recovered from his home address and two other addresses and particularly when he doesn’t make any earning in the UK.

On the face of it, it did appear that there was no way that Altaf Hussain could get off with such money laundering accusations as it would have been very difficult for Altaf Hussain to account for such a large amount of money.

However, bearing in mind that onus to prove such money to be crime proceeds was on police, one may realise that with more than two years of thorough investigation police failed to gather sufficient evidence connecting such money to be proceeds of crime, e.g. drugs money.

Though Altaf Hussain is not working in the UK, at the same time he is the head of a political organisation in Pakistan and he does not seem to running a criminal cartel in the UK.

And, as a head of a political organisation, he might have accounted for such money to be donations for his party or some other wealthy party workers might have owned such money to be a loan to Altaf Hussain.

Thus, in the absence of any active criminal activity attributed to Altaf Hussain and with some other people owning up that money, police have decided not to prosecute Altaf Hussain.

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The standard required to prove any criminal accusation is one of beyond reasonable doubt and the criminal jurisprudence is based on maxim that its better to set 10 guilty people free than to convict one innocent person; and the UK legal system is strictly based on such principles and bearing in mind such basis of criminal law one may understand the rational behind UK police not to prosecute Altaf Hussain.

One can compare the case of Altaf Hussain with Ayan Ali and try to make comparison with two different jurisdictions as with Altaf Hussain it took more than two years to come to conclusion whereas with Ayan Ali she was charged almost straight away.

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Also: Will Pakistan’s courts ever find ways to deliver speedy justice?

There is another aspect to Altaf Hussain’s case too that it must have cost UK people hundreds of thousnads of pounds for police to investigate.

The UK system is based on rule of law and they know very well that it is the bedrock of their society which they cannot afford to be shaken just for the sake of one person and that too Altaf Hussain.

An Abdalian and Aitchisonian, Barrister Ameer Abbas Ali Khan, is a Solicitor-Advocate (UK), Advocate High Court. He has LLB (Hons) UK, LLM (LSE), Bar-at-Law from Lincoln Inn, and lives in London and Lahore. His father has been an MP in Pakistan over several decades.

While the barrister friend considered the merit of the case from legal point of view, Omar S Hamid, Karachi’s counterterrorism expert and author of The Prisioner, said the case was an outcome of political considerations, according to his London sources. His tweet:

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