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World News

Pakistani Islamist found guilty on two more charges of terrorism financing

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Pakistani court on Thursday sentenced Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed by the United States and India for the 2008 Mumbai siege, to 10 years in prison on two charges of terrorism financing, his lawyer said.

The sentences for the two charges - five years each - will run concurrently.

Saeed is already in jail serving two sentences of five-and-a-half-years each, handed down to him in February this year, which means he will not serve any extra jail time.

“An anti-terrorism court in Lahore sentenced ten-and-a-half years imprisonment to chief of Jamaatud Dawa Hafiz Saeed, his deputy Zafar Iqbal, and spokesman Yahya Mujahid on charges of terror financing,” Saeed’s lawyer Imran Fazal Gill told Reuters.

Jammaat ud-Dawa is a charity run by Saeed.

“Since the convict has already been convicted ... by this court vide judgment dates 12.02.2020, so the punishment awarded to him in this case shall also run concurrently with punishment in said cases,” said the court order which was seen by Reuters.

Appeals have been filed against previous sentences, Gill said.

Saeed has been arrested and released several times over the past decade. He denies any involvement with militancy, including the 2008 Mumbai siege in which 160 people were killed, including Americans. The United States offered a reward of $10 million for information leading to the conviction of Saeed.

The conviction comes as Pakistan tries to avoid punitive blacklisting by global dirty money watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which judges a country’s ability to combat illicit financing, including to militant organisations.

Pakistan has remained on the “grey list” since 2018.

In FATF’s last review in October, Pakistan was urged to complete an internationally agreed action plan by February 2021 and to demonstrate that terrorism financing probes resulted in effective sanctions.

Saeed’s lawyer said his client was convicted under FATF pressure.

Writing by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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