Hafiz Muhammad Saeed looks over the crowed as they end a 'Kashmir Caravan' from Lahore with a protest in Islamabad. File / Reuters
Hafiz Saeed, accused by India and the United States of masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, was jailed for 11 years in Pakistan on Wednesday on terrorism financing charges, a government prosecutor and his defence lawyer said.
The Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) leader was the first high profile figure convicted on terrorism financing charges in Pakistan, which denies regular accusations that it shelters militants.
He was slapped with a prison sentence of five-and-a-half years and a fine of Rs15,000 in each case. The sentences of both cases will run concurrently.
“Saeed and another of his close aides have been sentenced in two cases of terrorism financing," prosecutor Abdul Rauf Watto said.
"The total punishment in both the cases was 11 years but he will serve five and a half years in jail as the two punishments will run concurrently," Saeed's lawyer Imran Gill said. "We will appeal against the verdict."
A vehicle carrying Hafiz Saeed leaves a court in Lahore. AP
Saeed is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), or the Army of the Pure, a group blamed by India and the United States for the four-day Mumbai siege, in which 160 people, including Americans and other foreigners, were killed.
Saeed has denied any involvement and says his network, which spans 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services, has no ties to militant groups.
Malik Zafar Iqbal, the secretary of Al Anfaal Trust, has also been convicted in the same cases and has been awarded similar punishment.
The court directed authorities to keep Saeed under custody until further orders.
The verdict was announced by ATC judge Arshad Hussain Bhatta. Saeed was also present in the courtroom while the judge read out the sentence.
The JuD leader was found guilty of "being part of a banned terrorist outfit” and for "having illegal property."
Saeed's jailing comes as Pakistan faces potential blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an anti-money-laundering monitor based in Paris — for failing to combat terror financing.
"There was nothing to the case really, this was just due to pressure from the FATF," his lawyer Gill told AFP.
The court's judgement, seen by AFP, did not specify which banned terrorist group Saeed belonged to or clarify what it meant by "illegal property", which can refer to money or other property.
There was also no immediate comment from the JuD group, and coverage of the sentence was muted on Pakistani news channels.
During the trial of both cases, the court recorded the statements of 23 witnesses.
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