KARACHI - An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday charged Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leaders, including City Mayor Wasim Akhtar, in two identical cases pertaining to bloodshed of May 12, 2007.

Akhtar and 20 other suspects appeared before the court in two cases, wherein the court indicted them. All those charged pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the cases. The court directed the prosecution to produce witnesses in the next hearing to be held on January 12. The court also ordered arrest and production of 15 others who were nominated in the cases and were already declared absconders by the court. In last hearing, another court of ATC had indicted Akhtar and the others in two separate cases pertaining to the May 12 carnage.

According to the prosecution, as many as 50 people were killed and over 100 wounded in attacks on rallies by different political parties and the legal fraternity who had attempted to receive the then deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

 at the Karachi airport ahead of a lawyers’ gathering on May 12, 2007.

Chaudhry was forced to fly back to Islamabad after nine hours of being restricted to the airport. Akhtar was the provincial home adviser to the chief minister at the time.

The Karachi mayor and at least 18 others are out on bail, while 16 others are absconding.

Moreover, the MQM leaders including Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, Khawaja Izhar, Rehman Hashmi and others appeared before another court of ATC in as many as five cases regarding hate speech of party founder Altaf Hussain, wherein the court was to indict the suspects in these cases, but due to the absence of the judge, the proceeding was adjourned without further proceeding. 

Earlier, the court had indicted the MQM (Pakistan) leaders inducted in 21 identical cases pertaining facilitating the dissemination of hateful speeches made by party founder, the accused denied the charges and opted to contest the cases.

Senior MQM leaders, including Dr Farooq Sattar, Karachi Mayor 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, along with nearly 200 party workers, have been booked in total 26 identical cases of hate speech.

The court had amalgamated 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