A Pakistani anti-terrorism court will pronounce on Saturday its verdict against Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed in two terror financing cases, a court official said on Thursday amidst intense pressure on Islamabad to rein in terror groups.
Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Lahore judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta reserved the verdict against Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Saeed in two terror financing cases on Thursday. The defence and prosecution completed their arguments in a six hour hearing, the court official told PTI after the hearing.
The judge will announce the verdict on February 8 in the presence of Saeed.
The official further said the prosecution produced some 20 witnesses in the ATC who testified against Saeed and his close aides for their alleged involvement in terror financing.
Saeed was produced before the ATC amid tight security.
“As the defence had already completed its arguments on January 30, the prosecution presented more arguments and evidence before the court on Thursday,” the official said.
The ATC had indicted Saeed and others on December 11. Saeed 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 the 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 US has also welcomed Saeed’s indictment, urging Islamabad to ensure a full prosecution and expeditious trial of the charges against him.
The 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 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.