A Pakistani court on Wednesday sentenced the head of an Islamist militant group blamed for a series of attacks in Mumbai more than a decade ago to five and a half years in jail.
A court in Lahore gave Hafiz Saeed two terms of five and a half years for two cases of terror financing.
The sentences will run concurrently, government prosecutor Abdul Rauf Watto told DPA.
India and the United States have long demanded that Saeed is behind bars.
In 2012, Washington announced a bounty of 10 million dollars for information leading to his capture.
Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and head of its charity wing Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), had been arrested several times in the past and subsequently released due to lack of evidence.
He was arrested again last July and put on trial over allegations of financing terrorism from the funds collected through non-profit organisations and trusts associated with the JuD.
U.S President, Donald Trump hailed Saeed’s arrest in 2019, writing on Twitter:
“After a ten-year search, the so-called ‘mastermind’ of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan.
Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him.
Saeed is considered the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
The attack in which fighters with his LeT killed more than 160 people in a gun and grenade assault that lasted for three days in the Indian financial hub.
Six U.S citizens were among the dead.
Wednesday’s sentencing was unrelated to that attack.
Saeed has the right to appeal the decision to a higher court, Wattoo said.
The decision came just days ahead of the meeting of the Financial Action Task Force.
The global body is scheduled to decide the fate of the country next week in Paris after an evaluation of steps taken to curb terror financing.
Pakistan was placed on a grey list in 2018.
The U.S and some of its European allies Britain, Germany and France had sought to put Pakistan on the black list, arguing it has not done enough to control the flow of money to terrorist groups.
Inclusion on the black list would mean difficulties for Pakistani citizens and companies trying to conduct financial transactions, a situation that might further hurt the country’s economy.
The U.S move was aimed at forcing Pakistan to take decisive action against Islamist militants linked with the Afghan Taliban and those behind the Mumbai attacks.
The LeT is alleged to be one of several jihadist groups, who are fighting Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir.
There are allegations that the group is supported by the Pakistani security establishment.
– Feb. 12, 2020 @ 18:40 GMT |