Pak court defers verdict against Hafiz Saeed

Tuesday 11th February 2020 13:47 EST

Lahore: A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has deferred its verdict against Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed in two terror financing cases on his 'request' and adjourned the hearing. Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Lahore judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta had last week reserved the verdict against the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief in the two terror financing cases.

'The ATC judge took up the application of Hafiz Saeed requesting the court to club all terror financing cases against him and announce the verdict after the trial is completed,' a court official sad after the hearing. The official said the deputy prosecutor opposed to Saeed's plea, arguing that the trial in the two cases against him has already been completed and the court may announce the verdict under the law.

The ATC, however, adjourned the hearing, issuing notices to both prosecution and defence lawyers for arguments on Saeed's plea. Saeed was produced before the ATC in high security. The prosecution had produced some 20 witnesses in the ATC to testify against Saeed and his close aides for their alleged involvement in terror financing.

The ATC indicted Saeed and others on December 11 in terror financing cases in day to day hearing. He has already recorded his statement before the court in two terror financing cases against him in which he pleaded 'not guilty'. The cases of terror financing have been registered against him in Lahore and Gujranwala cities on the application of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police.

Cross examination of prosecution witnesses against Saeed and his three close aides by the defence counsel has already been concluded. The CTD had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of Punjab province and arrested him on July 17. He is held at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore. Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force in October decided to keep Pakistan on its 'Grey' list for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups LeT, JeM and others. 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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