An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Tuesday indicted four top leaders of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) in a terror financing case. The four are close aides of 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
The court indicted Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Yayha Aziz and Abdul Salam in one of the cases registered against them on charges of terror funding.
All the four accused, however, pleaded "not guilty" and chose to contest the trial.
The court has adjourned the proceedings till Wednesday, with direction to the prosecution to present witnesses against the suspects.
The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police had registered 23 FIRs against 70-year-old Hafiz Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of the province.
Hafiz Saeed, a UN designated terrorist on whom the US has placed a $10 million bounty, was arrested on July 17, 2019 and is currently lodged at the high-security Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.
Hafiz Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The US named Hafiz Saeed a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US has, since 2012, offered $10 million as reward for any information that brings Saeed to justice. He was listed as a terrorist under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.
In February, Lahore's anti-terrorism court sentenced Hafiz Saeed and his close aide Zafar Iqbal to five and a half years and imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 in two terror financing cases. The jail terms in both cases will run concurrently.
US had welcomed Hafiz Saeed's conviction and described it as an "important step forward" for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terror financing and not to allow non-state actors to operate from its soil.
The crackdown on Saeed's organisation last year followed a warning by the international terror financing watchdog to Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering.