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Hafiz Saeed’s trial in terror-financing case begins in Lahore

JuD chief Hafiz Saeed being produced at a court in Lahore on December 20.

JuD chief Hafiz Saeed being produced at a court in Lahore on December 20.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The anti-terrorism court Lahore indicted Saeed and three of his top aides Hafiz Abdul Salam bin Muhammad, Muhammad Ashraf and Zafar Iqbal on terror-financing charges on December 11.

The much-awaited trial of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed began here on Friday with a witness testifying against him in the anti-terrorism court which also indicted the Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) chief in another case of terror financing, amidst intense international pressure on Pakistan to bring him to justice.

The anti-terrorism court (ATC) Lahore indicted Saeed and three of his top aides Hafiz Abdul Salam bin Muhammad, Muhammad Ashraf and Zafar Iqbal on terror-financing charges on December 11.

“The Counter Terrorism Department of Punjab Police produced a witness in the anti-terrorism court Lahore who testified against Saeed and his three aides in terror financing,” a court official told the PTI after the hearing.

Saeed and his aides were brought to the ATC under tight security and journalists were not allowed to enter the court to cover the proceedings.

The court official also said that Seed was also indicted in another case of terror financing. ATC Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta framed the charges on Saeed and ordered the prosecution to produce witnesses in this case. The court adjourned the hearing till Saturday.

Since his indictment, the day-to-day hearing of the case was halted because of the country-wide strike of lawyers.

The lawyers were protesting on the arrest of their colleagues in the case of hooliganism at a hospital in Lahore.

Deputy Prosecutor General Punjab Abdur Rauf had told the court that founder of Lashkar-e-Tabia (LeT) and others were involved in terror financing and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police had “solid evidence”.

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 U.S. Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the U.S., since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.

The United States has also welcomed Saeed’s indictment by a Pakistani court, urging Islamabad to ensure a full prosecution and expeditious trial of the charges against him.

“We welcome the indictment of Hafiz Saeed and his associates,” said the U.S. acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells in a tweet released a day after the indictment.

India and the U.S. on Thursday asked Pakistan to take “immediate and irreversible action” to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorism against other countries and to prosecute the perpetrators of cross-border terror attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attack by the LeT terrorists.

Saeed’s indictment follows after 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.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 1:09:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/hafiz-saeeds-trial-in-terror-financing-case-begins-in-lahore/article30359445.ece

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