Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's lawyers on Wednesday presented their arguments for six hours before a Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Court to defend him in a terror financing case. The lawyers said Saeed had no connection with the terror financing charges and the piece of land acquired in the name of the trust (by Saeed and others) was used for setting up seminaries and mosques.
"Hafiz Saeed's lawyers Naseeruddin Nayyar and Imran Fazal Gull presented their arguments for more than six hours in the anti-terrorism court Lahore regarding terror financing charges against Saeed and his three close associates Prof Zafar Iqbal, Abdus Salam Bin Muhammad and Muhammad Ashraf," a court official told PTI on Wednesday.
The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) adjourned the hearing for Thursday. On Tuesday, Saeed recorded his statement before the ATC in two terror financing cases against him in which he pleaded "not guilty".
"In response to a questionnaire handed over to him by the Anti-Terrorism Court Lahore regarding terror financing charges against him, Saeed on Tuesday submitted his reply in which he dismissed all charges against him. He pleaded not guilty," the court official said.
The cases of terror financing have been registered against him in Lahore and Gujranwala cities on the application of Counter Terrorism Department of Punjab police. Saeed was produced before the ATC in high security. Journalists were not allowed to enter the court premises for the coverage of the proceedings. Earlier Saeed's counsel requested the court for adjournment of the hearing against his client in terror financing case, saying Saeed needed more time to record his statement.
Cross examination of prosecution witnesses against the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and his three close aides by the defence counsel has already been concluded. The prosecution had produced a good number of witnesses against Saeed. The ATC indicted Saeed and others in December in terror financing case. The Counter Terrorism Department 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 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans. Saeed's indictment followed growing international pressure on Pakistan to stop militant groups from collecting funds in the country and to take immediate action against those still involved in militant activities. The international terror financing watchdog FATF has decided to keep Pakistan on its 'Grey' list for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups LeT, JeM and others.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which kept Pakistan on the Grey List for an extended period till February 2020, had warned in October that Islamabad would be put on the Black List if it did not comply with the remaining 22 points in a list of 27 questions. Saeed, a UN and US designated terrorist, has USD 10 million American bounty on his head. PTI MZ CPS