KARACHI: The anti-terrorism courts' (ATC) administrative judge remanded on Tuesday the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)'s mayor nominee Wasim Akhtar to prison in 10 cases.
Akhtar, along with other political leaders, is already in custody of the North Nazimabad police as a co-accused in the terrorists' facilitation case against Dr Asim Hussain. The MQM leader was presented before the judge at the end of his five-day physical remand in two cases pertaining to listening to his party chief's controversial speeches. The investigating officer (IO), however, told the judge that Akhtar was implicated in eight more cases, seven of which are regarding the May 12, 2007 carnage and one again related to the MQM chief's speech. The IO stated that the mayor-to-be was arrested along with Aslam alias Kala in seven cases of riots lodged with the Airport police. The eighth case was lodged at the Brigade police station after the MQM chief delivered a controversial speech targeting the military establishment.
Special team to probe cases against Wasim Akhtar
According to the prosecution, Akhtar was the home minister at the time the riots erupted across the city on May 12, 2007. It is maintained that he let the law and order situation deteriorate and directed law enforcers to not take any action against the perpetrators of violence. Regarding the cases of the MQM chief's speeches, Akhtar is deemed a facilitator. The officer sought extension in the physical remand of the suspect to interrogate him in the eight new cases that have surfaced. However, the defence counsel, Khawaja Naveed, opposed the extension and argued that his client was being politically victimised. The judge, concluding the hearing, sent Akhtar and Aslam to jail for two weeks on judicial remand and allowed the IO to interrogate them there, if necessary. The judge also sought investigation reports in the mentioned cases by August 9.
Meanwhile, Akhtar's lawyer also moved bail applications in three cases, which were transferred to ATC-I. An application regarding providing better jail facilities for the MQM leader was referred to the ATC-II.
With this development, Akhtar is in custody for a total of 11 cases, while he has obtained bail in over 25 other cases.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2016.
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