A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has reserved its verdict against Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on February 6 after a six-hour-long hearing in two terror financing cases. The anti-terrorism court will pronounce its judgement on February 8 in the presence of the Mumbai terror attack mastermind amidst increasing international pressure to rein in on terror groups.
Hafiz Saeed was produced before the court amid tight security on Thursday and around 20 witnesses testified against the JuD chief and his close aides for their involvement in terror financing. "As the defence had already completed its arguments on January 30, the prosecution presented more arguments and evidence before the court on Thursday," said a court official.
Saeed was charged for terror financing and money laundering under Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997, after the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices. He was presented in an anti-terrorism court in Lahore on December 20 where he had pleaded ‘not guilty’. Saeed was indicted again in another case by an anti-terrorism court after a case was filed by Punjab's CTD in Gujranwala district for terror-financing.
Jamat-ud-Dawa is believed to be the main organisation behind the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 which killed 166 people including six Americans. The JuD chief was moving freely in Pakistan for a long time but the sanctions by the global terror financing watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) forced the country to arrest him and expedite the case.
Pakistan government has been desperate to expedite the case ever since FATF put the country on the grey list. The FATF has warned Pakistan of blacklisting them if the country fails to comply with the targets set by the taskforce. Pakistan has been facing difficulties in accessing financial assistance after it was placed on the ‘Grey List’ by the FATF. The problem for Pakistan was compounded by the listing of Saeed as ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ by the US Department of the Treasury.
(With PTI inputs)