KARACHI - An anti-terrorism court (ATC) here on Saturday framed amended charges against Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and others in four cases involving bloody incidents of May 12, 2007.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Wasim Akhtar, Umair Siddiqui and two others appeared before the court where they were charged in four cases, as police produced an amended charge sheet against them.

The ATC framed amended charges against the accused after arrest of proclaimed offender Abdul Zahid. The accused pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the proceedings.

The court directed the prosecution to produce the witnesses at the next hearing to be held on March 2.

The court also repeated non bail-able arrest warrants for 17 absconders and directed the investigation officer to submit compliance report on their arrest in line with the court orders.

At the last hearing, the court had indicted the city mayor along with 21 others in cases relating to the May 12 bloodshed.

Around 50 people were killed and over 100 wounded in gun attacks on rallies taken out by different political parties and the legal fraternity on the arrival of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in the city at that time. The participants in these rallies were going to the Karachi airport to receive Justice Chaudhry.

Chaudhry was forced to fly back to Islamabad after being restricted to the airport for nine hours.

According to the prosecution, Akhtar was the provincial home adviser to the chief minister at the time. The mayor and at least 18 others are out on bail, while 16 others are absconding in identical cases involving May 12 incidents

Currently, four cases are under trail in Anti-Terrorism Court-II and three before the Anti-Terrorism Court-III. The accused have already been indicted in four cases pertaining to the May 12 bloodshed.

Another ATC conducted hearing of two cases relating to hate speech by the MQM founder. MQM leaders Farooq Sattar, Khaw aja Izharul Hassan, Rauf Siddiqui, Qamar Mansoor and others appeared in the court.

The court expressed its anger over absence of the investigation officer. The court was informed that the investigation officer was dealing with some important cases at the Sindh High Court. The court directed the investigation officer to appear at the next hearing and also submit documents that prove his appearance in the high court.

The investigation officer had submitted “A” class report in two cases in the trial court, however, the court had already ordered him to produce complainants in these cases. The court adjourned the hearing till March 3 and directed the investigation officer to ensure his presence at the next hearing.

At the last hearing, the court had made it clear that no further delay will be tolerated, and also issued bailable arrest warrants against the witnesses.

The court also directed the investigation officer to ensure appearance of witnesses in the court and record their statements.

Earlier, the court had indicted MQM-P leaders in 21 identical cases for facilitating and disseminating hateful speeches made by party founder, the accused denied the charges and opted to contest the cases.

Senior MQM leaders Dr Farooq Sattar, Wasim Akhtar, Amir Khan, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rauf Siddiqui, Rashid Godil, Khawaja Izharul Hasan, Gul Faraz Khattak, Salman Mujahid, Abdul Qadir Khanzada, Khushbakht Shujaat, Shahid Pasha, Qamar Mansoor and Kanwar Naveed and nearly 200 party workers have been booked in 26 identical cases of hate speech.

The court had merged identical FIRs registered at different police stations in the city against the MQM leaders for allegedly facilitating and listening to the highly provocative speech of their London-based chief against the country’s security establishment.

More than two dozen cases were registered against them at the Artillery Maidan, Malir City, Sohrab Goth and other police stations by the individuals.