A Pakistani court on Monday accepted the plea of Mumbai attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed to transfer a terrorism financing case against him from the anti-terrorism court Gujranwala district of Punjab province to a court in Lahore on the ground that there is a "threat to his life".
On July 17, Hafiz Saeed, a UN-designated global terrorist, was arrested in connection with the terrorism financing case while on his way from Lahore to Gujranwala. Prior to his arrest, the top 13 leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, including Hafiz Saeed and Naib Emir Abdul Rehman Makki, were charged in nearly two dozen cases for terror financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sardar Shamim Ahmed held the hearing on Hafiz Saeed's petition and accepted it when the government law officer raised no objection on it.
Hafiz Saeed's advocate AK Dogar said his client is kept at Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore but he is taken to Gujranwala, around 80 km from Lahore, on every appearance before the anti-terrorism court there in connection with a terrorism financing case.
He said shifting Hafiz Saeed from Lahore to either Gujranwala or Gujrat anti-terrorism courts may entail threat to his life. Besides, the government has to make elaborate security arrangements on his shifting to the ATCs outside Lahore, he argued.
Accepting his plea, Justice Shamim allowed the trial of Hafiz Saeed in the terror financing case registered in Gujranwala district in the Lahore Anti-Terrorism Court.
The founder of banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) has also challenged his arrest (in the terror financing cases).
On September 25 the LHC chief justice transferred Saeed's petition against his arrest to another two-member bench.
Justice Shamim transferred Hafiz Saeed's case from a two-member bench comprising Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi and Justice Mushtaq Ahmed to other two-member bench headed by Justice Mohammad Qasim Khan.
In the last hearing held on August 27, Justice Naqvi's bench had sought reply from the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police on the petition Hafiz Saeed and 67 other leaders of Jammat-ud-Dawah and Falah-i-Insaniat in two weeks.
It had also summoned a CTD official concerned to explain about the arrest of Hafiz Saeed and others in terror financing. Hearing in this case was scheduled to be held on September 25 but the bench was changed.
The CTD had registered 23 FIRs against the petitioners on the charges of "terror financing" in different cities of Punjab province.
The cases have been registered in Lahore, Gujranwala & Multan for collection of funds for terrorism financing through assets/properties made and held in the names of Trusts/ Non Profit Organisations, including the Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc.
The CTD said investigation launched into financing matters of proscribed organisations -- JuD and LeT -- in connection with implementation of UN Sanctions against these Designated Entities & Persons as directed by the National Security Committee in its meeting of January 1, 2019.
"These suspects made assets from funds of terrorism financing. They held & used these assets to raise more funds for further terrorism financing. Hence, they committed multiple offences of terrorism financing & money laundering under Anti Terrorism Act 1997. They will be prosecuted in ATCs for commission of these offences," the CTD said.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Hafiz Saeed to justice.
Hafiz Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.