A Pakistani court on Friday sentenced Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the globally designated terrorist leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and mastermind of Mumbai attack, to three prison terms of five years each over terror financing. The sentences, under three sections of Anti-Terrorism Act, will run concurrently.
The conviction and sentencing at the special bench of an anti-terrorism court in Lahore concluded in a single hearing of just few hours after Lakhvi was produced before it for the first time since his arrest on January 2. The hurried action appeared to prove the view that Pakistan was scampering to comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is set to take up this month and in February the case of the country, which is currently in the ‘grey list’ of the global watchdog on terror financing and money laundering.
Judge Ejaz Ahmad Buttar, who pronounced the verdict, also asked Lakhvi, an operations commander of LeT, to pay a fine of Rs300,000 for running a medical dispensary to collect and disburse funds for terror activities.
The Counter-Terrorism Department of Punjab Police, which had arrested Lakhvi, clarified that he was detained in relation to terrorism financing and not for a “specific militant attack”.
The court on Friday announced its verdict after recording the statements of all witnesses in the case.
India accuses Lakhvi of masterminding the 26/11 attacks of November, 2008 in Mumbai that killed 166 people. He was arrested by Pakistan in 2008 but later released on bail. Pakistan claims that India didn’t provide concrete evidence to convict Lakhvi.
According to a UN Security Council sanctions committee, which designated him a global terrorist, Lakhvi is the chief of operations and military commander of the LeT.
A close relative of LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, he had a central role in planning and executing the assault on Mumbai, according to Indian and US security officials.
Lakhvi was born in Okara district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, which was also home to Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only one to be captured alive among the 10 terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks. In the 1990s, Lakhvi was a member of the Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, LeT’s parent body.
Lakhvi worked at LeT’s main centre at Muridke near Lahore in the 1990s. Security officials say he was actively involved in fighting in Jammu and Kashmir and later planning the LeT’s operations in the state.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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