An anti-terrorism court in Lahore on Wednesday convicted Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed in two terror-financing cases, sentencing him to five-and-a-half years in prison in each case.
According to the court ruling, the prison sentences of both cases will run concurrently, thereby reducing his sentence from 11 to five-and-a-half years. In addition, he has been fined Rs. 15,000 in each case, for a total of Rs. 30,000.
Saeed’s sentencing is against two counts: he was convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act Section 11-F(2)—which carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment for anyone found to be member of a proscribed organization—as well as Section 11-N, which carries a minimum penalty of five years’ imprisonment for anyone involved in fundraising for the “purpose of terrorism” or money laundering for proscribed organizations or owning “illegal” assets.
According to local media, Saeed was granted the benefit of Section 382-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows for a reduction in sentence against the period he was detained prior to the sentencing.
The court had reserved its verdicts in the two cases on Feb. 6 with Saeed’s counsel requesting all the pending cases against him be clubbed together and sentencing rendered simultaneously.
The arrest and charging of Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed more than 160 people, has long been a demand of the United States and India.
Last March, Pakistan formally banned Saeed’s charity Jamatud Dawa and other associated organizations, after years of allowing them to operate freely across the country. The Dawa chief was arrested by Counter-Terrorism Department in July 2019. Prior to his arrest, 23 first information reports had been registered against Dawa leaders, including Saeed, at CTD police stations in Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad and Sargodha.
The crackdown on Dawa 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 or risk being blacklisted.