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Karachi

May 16, 2018

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Karachi mayor indicted in May 12 violence case

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday indicted Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, Umair Siddiqui and 17 others in a case pertaining to the violence that erupted in the city on May 12, 2007 and claimed more than 50 lives.

As the judge of ATC-II read out the charges and inquired about the agreement of the accused, they all denied the charges and pleaded not guilty. On this, the court directed the prosecution to produce the witnesses to record their statements against the 19 accused at a hearing on June 23.

Earlier, the court examined four similar cases of the murders and violence that took place on May 12, 2007. The mayor, a leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and most of the other co-accused are out on bail in these cases. However, Umair Siddiqui is under detention and he was produced by the prison authorities at Tuesday’s hearing for the framing of charges. Sixteen absconders have already been declared proclaimed offenders in the case.

Later, in an informal conversation with reporters outside the courtroom, Mayor Akhtar claimed that innocent people were being tried, which was unfair, and demanded that the government re-investigate the May 12 mayhem case so that the actual faces behind the killings could be exposed.

He further said that he had been implicated in some 40 false cases on the behest of former Malir SSP Rao Anwar who had picked him (Wasim) from prison to get the cases registered against him. Incidentally, Anwar is also facing a trial in an anti-terrorism court for being involved in the extrajudicial murder of a Waziristan native, Naqeebullah Mehsud, and three others in January.

The mayor said that when the cases of the May 12 violence were registered in 2007, his name was not mentioned in any of them. Akhtar claimed that he was targeted after he became the mayor of Karachi, while his co-accused were mostly poor employees of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board who have also been implicated falsely in these cases.

He demanded that the government reopen all the cases pertaining to the killings in the Pakka Qila, Hyderabad incident, Ali Garrh Colony and bomb blast incidents. Around 52 people were killed on May 12, 2007 in the city when armed clashes broke out after the then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry was barred from being able to enter the city to address lawyers.

Cases against Raees Mama

Meanwhile, the prison authorities told an ATC hearing the murder cases against former MQM Korangi sector in-charge Raeesuddin alias Raees Mama, that he could not be produced in court due to security issue.

The court was informed that it was risky to produce the high-profile accused because there was a possibility that he could engineer his escape. The authorities further said that the home ministry has been approached to pass orders to hear the cases against Raees Mama within the prison premises.

Raees is facing some 16 cases pertaining to several murders and police have submitted charge sheets in five cases. The ATC-VII has been assigned by the administrative judge concerned to hear the cases.

The charge sheets state that Raees himself has confessed to killing several police officers and other citizens. He had fled away to Dubai via Iran in 2014. The charge sheets further stated that Raees had hidden illegal arms, hand grenades and other ammunition in the area of Eidgah ground. It was further stated that Raees had committed the several murders on the orders of his party leadership.

The court was informed that the accused claimed to have his political affiliations with the MQM-London and to be the head of the target killers’ team of his party. In April, the police had recovered illegal arms and explosive material from within the limits of Nabi Bukhsh police station based on information provided by Raees. The court allowed the police to further investigate the matter while handing over the custody of the accused to Nabi Buksh police.

Raees is also a key accused of the Chakra Goth firing cases that pertained to murders, attempted murders and illegal arms possession, among others. He has been identified by several eye-witnesses in target killing cases.

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