LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday accepted for hearing a petition seeking the simultaneous hearing and verdict of six cases against Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed and his associates.
According to Deputy Prosecutor General Abdul Rauf Wattoo, in total six cases against the said individuals were pending before the same court, adding that in four of these cases presentation of evidence was in progress.
Wattoo said hearing of all four remaining 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 of the cases. The reserved verdicts, which relate to terror financing cases, will also be announced with those on 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 Feb 11 on the defendants’ application to hear all cases first before announcing the verdict. The application, filed by the suspects’ counsel, demands 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 29 cases pertaining to alleged terror financing, money laundering as well as illegal land grabbing. The verdict was reserved against him in two cases on Feb 6.
The terror financing cases were filed by the Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) Lahore and Gujranwala chapters. The case filed by 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 CTD in July last year, while he was traveling from Lahore to Gujranwala. Prior to his arrest, 23 first information reports had been registered against JuD leaders, including Saeed and JuD Naib Emir (deputy chief) Abdul Rehman Makki, at CTD police stations of Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad and Sargodha in July 2019.
According to the CTD, 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, etc. 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 JuD last year followed a warning by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering.
The government had announced a ban on JuD and 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 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 government.