Anti terrorism court convicts Hafiz Saeed in terror financing cases today.
Al Jazeera report calls Hafiz Muhammad Saeed the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba armed group.
The ATC Lahore awarded five and a half years’ prison in a case related to terrorism financing.
However, Saeed was convicted and sentenced on two counts, the lawyer Imran Gill said.
Anti terrorism court convicts Hafiz Saeed
The sentence includes 6-month imprisonment for membership of a proscribed organisation under Pakistani law.
Another five years imprisonment awarded for a charge related to “illegal property”, Gill said.
Abdur Rauf Wattoo, the government’s prosecutor in the case, confirmed the verdict.
He said that the court also convicted Saeed’s associate Zafar Iqbal to the same term.
International media names him as accused of Mumbai attack
The arrest and charging of Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed more than 160 people, has been a long-standing demand of the United States and Pakistan’s neighbour India.
The 70-year-old says denied charges. He said not linked to any armed group, although he heads Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the charitable arm of the LeT group.
Both the JuD and LeT are “banned organisations” under Pakistani anti-terrorism law.
Saeed’s conviction comes days ahead of a key meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental watchdog that monitors terrorism and criminal financing laws, in Paris.
Meanwhile, FATF will be issuing a decision on whether Pakistan has taken sufficient steps to avoid being “blacklisted.”
The designation would badly affect the South Asian nation’s struggling economy.
A FATF blacklisting would put in place barriers that would serve to isolate Pakistan’s economy from the international banking system.
It would put Pakistan under stricter checks and safeguards on transactions involving the country.
Saeed was indicted in December on six charges under anti-terrorism laws, with verdicts still due in four cases.
“Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act deals with possessing property, facilitating and fundraising … if a proscribed person or organisation holds a property, then that is considered to be for the purpose of terrorism,” said Wattoo, the prosecutor.
“So on that basis the court has found sufficient evidence and convicted Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Saeed on two counts each.”
First conviction since 2008 attacks
LeT is accused of operating with impunity from Pakistani soil to attack Indian security and government targets in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan and India both claim the mountainous territory of Kashmir in full, but administer separate portions of it.
They have fought two of their three wars over the territory, with India accusing Pakistan of also supporting armed groups like LeT and Jaish-e-Muhammad that attack Indian targets in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan denies the charges, saying it has been acting against all armed groups operating on its soil.
Saeed convicted firs time
Wednesday’s development is the first time Saeed has been convicted on any charges since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
In December 2014, a Pakistani court granted bail to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, another senior LeT commander, in a case related to the Mumbai attacks, saying there was not enough evidence to continue to hold him.
Saeed says he is no longer associated with LeT, and claims JuD only conducts humanitarian aid work.
JuD and its Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) have operated a network of dozens of schools and hundreds of ambulances, providing humanitarian relief in all four Pakistani provinces.
The UN has long designated the JuD and FIF as fronts for the LeT.
Last year, under pressure after the FATF review, Pakistan formally banned Saeed’s JuD and other associated organisations, after years of allowing them to operate freely across the country.
Saeed remains in custody, and will now be shifted to prison, as verdicts in the four remaining terrorism financing cases are expected later this week.