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February 13, 2020

Hafiz Saeed jailed for 11 years

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February 13, 2020

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court on Wednesday convicted Chief of the banned organization Jamaatud Dawa (JD), Hafiz Saeed, on charges of terror financing and awarded him five and a half years imprisonment each in two cases.

ATC judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta also sentenced Malik Zafar Iqbal, a close aide of Hafiz Saeed, to five and a half years each in both cases. He was the secretary of the Al-Anfaal Trust, also run by the JD. The convicts were facing Sections 11-F(2) , 11-N, 11-H, 11-K of Anti-terrorism Act in both FIRs.

The court awarded six months jail to Hafiz Saeed and Malik Zafar under 11-F(2) ATA (being a member of a banned outfit and supporting and arranging meetings of a proscribed organization) in FIR no 30/2019 registered by the CTD Lahore. In the same FIR, the convicts have been awarded five years jail term under Section 11-N ATA (money laundering, illegal fundraising and buying properties from raised funds). In FIR No 32/2019 registered by the CTD Gujranwala, the JD leadership was awarded five months jail term under Section 11-F2 ATA (member of a banned outfit, arranging activities of organization and extending support). Five years jail term was awarded in this FIR under 11-N-ATA. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 to both the convicts in each case.

Both the sentences would run concurrently and the convicts have been given benefit of Section 382-B of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This means that both convicts will have to undergo only five and a half years jail term and the time of their jail term will start from the date of arrest. It is pertinent to mention here that JD famous Markaz Al Qadsia, Lake Road. Chauburji, was mainly discussed during the hearings as it was run by the funds collected by the banned JD.

According to the details of the case, on July 3, 2019, the top 13 leaders of the JD were booked in two dozen cases for terror financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997. The Counterterrorism Department (CTD), which registered the cases in five cities of Punjab, declared that the JD 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. Furthermore, the CTD during detailed investigations found that they had links with the JD and its top leadership, accused of financing terrorism by building huge assets and properties from the collected funds in Pakistan. These non-profit organisations were banned in April 2019. Later, on July 17, Hafiz Saeed was arrested from Gujranwala on charges of terror financing by the Punjab CTD. Besides, the top JD leaders, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Ameer Hamza, Mohammad Yahya Aziz, Mohammad Naeem, Mohsin Bilal, Abdul Raqeeb, Dr Ahmad Daud, Dr Muhammad Ayub, Abdullah Ubaid, Mohammad Ali and Abdul Ghaffar were booked. However, the JD leaders claim that they have been nominated in the cases by wrongly attributing them as leaders of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT). According to the counsel of the JD leaders, his clients had quit the LT before the organisation was banned in 2002. The counsel argued that the cases against his clients have been made on the basis of a link to defunct Al-Nifal Trust which was formed to construct mosques in the country.

Deputy Prosecutor General Abdul Rauf Wattoo, who was representing the state in the said cases while talking to the News, informed that the ATC Lahore has seven more pending cases against JD leaders out of which two are against Hafiz Saeed and Malik Zafar.

Hafiz Saeed can prefer an appeal in the Lahore High Court against his five and a half years conviction each in two terror financing cases within 15 days. The appeal could be filed under Section 25 of the Anti-terrorism Act 1997 read with Section 410 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1898 and a two-member bench would take up the appeal to decide the same in seven working days, however, it is highly unlikely due to huge backlog of cases in LHC, advocate Azhar Siddique said. Section 410 of CrPC says any person convicted in a trial held by a sessions judge or an additional sessions judge may appeal to the high court. There is no mentioning of time period for filing the appeal as the same has been explained in ATA.

Section 25 of ATA reads as under: (1) an appeal against the final judgment of an anti-terrorism court shall lie to a high court. (2) Copies of the judgment of an anti-terrorism court shall be supplied to the accused and the public prosecutor free of cost on the day the judgment is pronounced and the record of the trial shall be transmitted to the high court within three days of the decision. (3) An appeal under sub-section (1) may be preferred by a person sentenced by an anti-terrorism court to a high court within fifteen days of the passing of the sentence.

(5) An appeal under this section shall he heard and decided by a high court within seven working days. (6) Pending the appeal, the high court shall not release the accused on bail. (7) For the purposes of hearing appeals under this section, each high court shall establish a special bench consisting of not less than two judges.

(8) While hearing an appeal, the bench shall not grant more than two consecutive adjournments.

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