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Opinion

Pak court sentences Hafiz Saeed to 15 years in prison in terrorist financing case

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Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed, accused by India of plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was sentenced Thursday to a fifteen-and-a-half-year prison sentence in a terrorist financing case for a Pakistani court, his fourth conviction this year on similar charges.

This was the longest prison sentence ever imposed on the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) in the five cases that the Lahore anti-terrorism court has decided against him. Although the prison terms in these cases cumulatively add up to 36 years, he will serve the sentences at the same time.

The court also imposed a fine of 200,000 Pakistani rupees on Saeed, 70, who is being held in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat prison. However, reports have suggested that he is being given preferential treatment at the prison, including access to special facilities and visitors.

Saeed’s latest conviction comes in the run-up to Pakistan’s efforts to counter terrorist financing are re-evaluated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) early next year. In October, the multilateral watchdog kept Pakistan on its “gray list” for not fully complying with an action plan to combat terrorist financing, giving it until February to address what it said were “very serious deficiencies.”

FATF Chairman Marcus Pleyer warned that Pakistan would not have the opportunity “forever” to address outstanding issues, saying that repeated failure to comply with the action plan would result in a country being “blacklisted”.

A judicial official in Lahore was quoted by PTI as saying: “On Thursday, a Lahore anti-terror court convicted five Jamaat-ud-Dawa leaders, including their boss Hafiz Saeed, in another terrorist financing case … for 15- Years and a half “.

The others convicted by the court were close associates of Saeed: JuD spokesman Yahya Mujahid, Zafar Iqbal, Hafiz Abdus Salam and Muhammad Ashraf. The court also awarded Saeed’s brother-in-law, Abdul Rahman Makki, a six-month prison term and fined him 200,000 Pakistani rupees, the judicial official said.

Saeed and the others were brought to court amid tight security and the media were not allowed into the courtroom.

In November, Saeed received two separate five-year prison sentences under the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act for using and providing funds for acts of terrorism in two terrorist financing cases. He was also given a six-month prison term for being a member of a prohibited group.

Saeed also received two five-and-a-half-year sentences in February. It was previously thought that he would serve only about five years in jail, as all sentences would run at the same time. However, Thursday’s verdict means that he will serve up to 15 1/2 years.

Last year, Pakistan’s Punjab Province Counter-Terrorism Department recorded a total of 41 cases against JuD leaders, and 28 of them have been decided so far.

People familiar with the events said on condition of anonymity that the action being taken against Saeed is largely due to pressure on Pakistan by Western powers and the FATF to crack down on terrorist groups and individuals designated by the UN, as well as the financing of terrorism, including the prosecution of those who channel funds to terrorists.

Saeed’s repeated conviction in five cases this year is also seen as diminishing utility for Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, which has long had connections to LeT, JuD, and other front organizations created by him, such as the Falah Foundation. -e-Insaniyat. .

Hindustan Times

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