Hafiz Saeed to face trial for terror financing charges on December 7
Chief of the banned terror outfit Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks Hafiz Saeed will be prosecuted on terror financing charges by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore next month, news agency PTI reported on Saturday.
An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Lahore held a hearing against Saeed and his accomplices on terror financing on Saturday. The court fixed December 7 as the date for indictment of the JuD chief and others.
“ATC judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta fixed December 7 for Saeed’s indictment after hearing the arguments of prosecution and defence lawyers,” a court official said after the hearing.
Prosecutor Abdur Rauf Bhatti requested the court to hold a day-to-day hearing to finish the trial at the earliest. Saeed’s lawyers objected to the request.
“The judge said he has to conclude the trial on evidence and merit,” the official said, adding that the court adjourned the proceedings till December 7.
The JuD leader was brought to the anti-terrorism court amidst tight security from Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat jail. The media were not allowed to enter the court to cover the proceedings due to security measures adopted by the Punjab Police.
The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of “terror financing” in different cities of the Punjab province and arrested the JuD chief on July 17. He is detained at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.
The cases have been registered in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan for collection of funds for terror financing through assets/properties made and held in the names of Trusts/ Non Profit Organizations (NPO) including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust and Muaz Bin Jabal Trust.
Under pressure from the international community, the Pakistani authorities have launched investigations into matters of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), JuD and its charity wing the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) for their holding and use of trusts to raise funds for terrorism financing.
According to the CTD, the investigation was launched into financing matters of proscribed organisations - JuD and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) - in connection with implementation of the UN sanctions against these designated entities and persons as directed by NSC (National Security Committee) in its January 1 meeting chaired by prime minister Imran Khan for implementing National Action Plan.
“These suspects made assets from terrorism financing funds. They held and used these assets to raise more funds for more terror financing. Hence, they committed multiple offences of terrorism financing & money laundering under Anti Terrorism Act 1997. They will be prosecuted in ATCs (Anti Terrorism Courts) for commission of these offences,” the CTD said.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings JuD chief to justice.
On July 3, top 13 leaders of the banned JuD, including Saeed and Naib Emir Abdul Rehman Makki, were booked in nearly two dozen cases for terror financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
The CTD had registered an FIR against Saeed and others for illegally grabbing a piece of land in Lahore and setting up a seminary.
According to officials, JuD’s network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance service.
In March, Punjab police said that government seized control of 160 seminaries, 32 schools, two colleges, four hospitals, 178 ambulances and 153 dispensaries associated with the JuD and its charity wing FIF in the province.
At least 56 seminaries and facilities being run by the JuD and FIF in southern Sindh province were also taken over by authorities in the same month.
Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organization for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people.