Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar along with other suspects was on Saturday indicted in a case relating to rioting and arson during the May 12, 2007 mayhem in Karachi.
The Karachi mayor, Umair Siddiqui, Mohammad Nasir and Nasir Zia were among the 20 accused charged with rioting, arson and terrorism in the second of the four identical cases lodged at Airport police station during the May 12 chaos.
Around 50 people were killed and over 100 wounded in attacks on rallies organised by members of political parties and legal fraternity who had tried to receive the then deposed chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, at Karachi airport ahead of a lawyers’ gathering.
Justice Chaudhry was forced to fly back to Islamabad after having been restricted to the airport for nine hours. Wasim Akhtar was home adviser to the Sindh chief minister at the time.
On Saturday, three identical cases were fixed before the antiterrorism court-II judge for the indictment of the suspects. The judge read out the charges framed in the second case against the suspects, including Mayor Akhtar, who was present in the courtroom.
All those charged, including Akhtar, pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the case. The court subsequently directed the prosecution to produce its witnesses on the next hearing, which was fixed for October 27 to record their testimonies.
The Karachi mayor and at least 18 others are out on bail, while around 16 are absconding. Only Umair Siddiqui is currently in jail.
On May 15 earlier this year, ATC-II had framed charges against Akhtar, Umair Siddiqui, Mohammad Nasir and Nasir Zia among 20 persons accused of arson, rioting and terrorism in one of the four cases pertaining to the May 12 violence.
In all, seven cases have been pending trial since May 2007 before two antiterrorism courts in Karachi, as the prosecution failed to make any breakthrough in the investigation. Four cases are pending trial before ATC-II and three before ATC-III.
The cases have been registered under sections 146 (rioting), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 109 (punishment for abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, at the Airport police station.
According to the prosecution, Akhtar had allegedly admitted his involvement before interrogators, and on his information one of the key suspects, Aslam alias Kala, was arrested.
The investigating officers contended in investigation reports that the police had recovered from Aslam a weapon allegedly used in the killings during the riots.