Court verdicts in six cases against Saeed by week-end

Lahore, Feb 11 : An anti-terrorism court (ATC) here on Tuesday accepted a plea for simultaneous hearing and verdict in six cases against Hafiz Saeed, chief of the proscribed organisation Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD), and his associates.

Deputy Prosecutor General Abdul Rauf Wattoo told DawnNewsTV that six cases against the said individuals were pending before the same court, adding that in four of these cases the presentation of evidence was in progress.

Wattoo said that hearing of four cases will be concluded simultaneously at the end of the week, which is when the court will issue its verdicts.

The court has already reserved its verdicts in two cases. The reserved verdicts, which relate to terror financing cases, will also be announced with those of other cases at the end of the week, he added.

On Saturday, the ATC had delayed announcing its verdict in the terror financing cases and had decided to hear arguments on February 11 on the defendants’ application to hear all cases first before announcing the verdict.

The application, filed by the suspects’ counsel, demanded that collective verdicts be issued after the completion of trials in all the cases pending against them.

A prosecutor had opposed the application and argued that the court could announce its verdict in cases for which arguments had been closed. The court, however, had deferred the decision and sought arguments on the application from both sides.

Saeed is nominated in about 29 cases pertaining to terror financing, money laundering as well as illegal land grabbing. The verdict was reserved against him in two cases on February 6.

The terror financing cases were filed by the Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) Lahore and Gujranwala chapters. The case filed by the CTD’s Gujranwala chapter was initially being heard in a Gujranwala ATC but was shifted to Lahore on the directions of the Lahore High Court.

During the trial of both cases, the court recorded the statements of 23 witnesses.

The JuD chief was arrested by the CTD in July last year, while he was travelling from Lahore to Gujranwala.

Prior to his arrest, 23 first information reports had been registered against JuD leaders, including Saeed and JuD Naib Emir Abdul Rehman Makki, at CTD police stations in Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad and Sargodha in July 2019.

According to the CTD, the JuD was financing terrorism from the massive funds collected through non-profit organisations and trusts including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust and others.

These non-profit organisations were banned in April last year as the CTD, during detailed investigations, found that they had links with the JuD and its top leadership.

The crackdown on the JuD last year followed a warning by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force to Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering.

The government had announced a ban on the JuD and the Falah-e-Insanyat Foundation (FIF) to partially address the concerns raised by India that Pakistan supported these and six similar organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) or at least considered them low-risk entities.

Law enforcement agencies over the next few weeks had intensified their crackdown on the JeM, JuD, FIF and other banned outfits, and arrested more than 100 activists.

Nearly 200 seminaries besides hundreds of other facilities and assets associated with them across the country were taken over by the Pakistan government.

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