Hafiz Saeed's lawyers, prosecution spar in Pak anti-terrorism court

M Zulqernain

Lahore, Jan 16 (PTI) Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's lawyers on Thursday exchanged heated arguments with the prosecution in a Pakistani anti-terrorism court which is hearing terror financing charges against the JuD chief.

While the arguments against Saeed continued, a similar case against Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) spokesperson Yahya Mujahid and others was adjourned till January 23.

Saeed's lawyers Naseeruddin Nayyar and Imran Fazal Gull, and Deputy Prosecutor General of Punjab Abdur Reauf presented their arguments for more than five hours in the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Lahore, a court official told PTI.

'Heated arguments were exchanged between the defence and prosecution lawyers during the hearing on Thursday,' he said.

The hearing in Saeed's case was adjourned till Friday, the official said.

The ATC-II also held hearing in terror financing case against senior JuD leader Abdul Rehman Makki and its spokesperson Mujahid and adjourned the proceedings till January 23, he said.

Saeed was produced before the ATC in high security. Journalists were not allowed to enter the court premises for the coverage of the proceedings.

On Wednesday, Saeed's lawyers presented their arguments for six hours before the court, saying he had no connection with the terror financing charges and the piece of land acquired in the name of the trust (by him and others) was used for setting up seminaries and mosques.

On Tuesday, the JuD chief recorded his statement before the ATC 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 Counter Terrorism Department of Punjab police.

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 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.

His 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 AKJ CPS