LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court on Thursday convicted four leaders of Jamatud Dawa (JuD) in one of the terror financing cases registered against the organisation by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in different cities of Punjab.
ATC-III Presiding Judge Ijaz Ahmad Buttar convicted Malik Zafar Iqbal and Muhammad Yahya Aziz under section 11-N, read with 11-I(2) (b) of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and handed them down five-year rigorous imprisonment each with a fine of Rs50,000.
The judge also sentenced Abdul Rehman Makki and Abdul Salam to one-year imprisonment each under section 11-F (6) of the ATA with Rs20,000 fine.
The CTD had in 2019 registered the FIR against the convicts and others under sections 11-F (2)(5)(6), 11-H(2), H-I, 11-I, 11-N, and J-2 of the ATA 1997.
Initially the trial was held before Sahiwal ATC, however, it was later shifted to Lahore following an order passed by the Lahore High Court on the request of the convicts. The CTD had registered total 23 FIRs against the JuD.
The prosecution alleged that the convicts, being office-bearers of proscribed Al-Anfaal Trust, had possessed property measuring one kanal and three marlas in Okara for the purpose of terrorism and to support terrorist activities. A seminary namely “Madressah Jamia Sataria” was constructed on the said land.
To the extent of section 11-H of the ATA, the judge observed in the decision that the provision dealt with fundraising and the investigating officer categorically maintained that he had not collected any evidence to substantiate the fact of fundraising. “So prosecution has failed to prove charge u/s 11-H of ATA 1997,” the judge said.
He also observed that the convicts admitted that they were members of the proscribed organisation prior to its proscription, however, denied the hostile activities. He noted that the property in question remained in control and possession of the convicts for the purpose that has reasonable cause to suspect that it was used for the purpose of terrorism.
“There was a strong suspicion that the said property was used or suspected to have been used for the purpose of terror financing,” ruled the judge.
The convicts, through their counsel, had denied the charges, alleging that they had been implicated in the case due to malice and ulterior motives. They said the authorities in the country had turned hostile towards them since long.
They said they were not the office-bearers when the organisation was proscribed by the government.
The judge said in the order that the sentence of the convicts would run concurrently with their previous sentence, if any. He also ordered the government to confiscate the property in question.
CTD spokesman said three of the convicts were also ‘UN Designated Persons’ involved in terrorism financing. He said their conviction would play a major role in checking terrorism financing in Pakistan.Earlier, on Feb 12, 2020, ATC-I had handed down five-and-a-half-year rigorous imprisonment to JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Malik Zafar Iqbal each in two of the cases.
Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2020