Pak court transfers two terror financing cases against Hafiz Saeed to Lahore


PTI, Feb 18, 2020, 5:45 PM IST

Lahore: An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Tuesday transferred two terror financing cases against Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed to Lahore on his request.

Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, was arrested on July 17 in the terror financing cases. The 70-year-old fiery cleric is lodged at the high-security Kot Lakhpat jail here.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh held the hearing on the petition of Saeed and his close aide Zafar Iqbal, who is the secretary of Al-Anfaal Trust.

Saeed in his petition requested the court to transfer two terror financing cases against him from Multan and Sahiwal cities of Punjab to Lahore so that the anti-terrorism court in Lahore could hear all such cases against him. The court accepted his plea after prosecution raised no objection to it.

On February 12, Saeed and Iqbal were sentenced in two terror financing cases registered against them in Lahore and Gujranwala cities on the application of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police.

Anti-terrorism court Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta sentenced Saeed and Iqbal to five and a half years each and imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 in each case. A total of 11 years sentence will run concurrently.

Saeed’s counsel Imran Fazal Gill alleged that his client was convicted on the pressure of the Financial Action Task Force. “We are disappointed over the ATC verdict and will challenge it in the LHC,” he said.

Saeed will undergo imprisonment at Kot Lakhpat jail where he has been detained since July last.

The CTD had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of the province.

The ATC had indicted Saeed and others on December 11 in these two terror financing case in day to day hearing. Saeed had recorded his statement before the court pleading “not guilty”.

Saeed-led JuD is the front organization for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The US named Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million rewards for information that brings Saeed to justice. He was listed as a terrorist under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.

The US welcomed the conviction of Saeed and described it as an “important step forward” for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terror financing and not to allow non-state actors to operate from its soil.

The crackdown on Saeed’s outfit last year followed a warning by the international terror financing watchdog to Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering.

The FATF in October last decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘Grey List’ for its failure to curb funneling of funds to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

If not removed off the list by April, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries that face severe economic sanctions, such as Iran.

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