A court in Pakistan's Punjab province gave a brief respite to 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed after law enforcement authorities surprisingly failed to produce co-accused Malik Zafar Iqbal for trial on Saturday.
The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Pakistan’s Lahore city has now fixed 11 December as the date for the framing of charges against the founder of militant and Islamic fundamentalist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD), along with the other co-accused.
"Case against Hafiz Saeed and others under the FIR 30/19 Counter Terrorism Department of Punjab police was fixed for framing of charges in connection with terror financing before the Anti-Terrorism Court-1 Lahore but strangely co-accused Malik Zafar Iqbal was not produced from jail. Due to this reason, the case has been adjourned till 11 December for further proceedings and for framing of the charges", a court official said after the hearing.
ATC Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta was quoted by Pakistani media as saying that he would frame charges next Wednesday against both Saeed and Iqbal, directing law enforcement officials to ensure that Iqbal attends the next hearing.
During the last hearing, the judge fixed 7 December as the date for the indictment of Saeed and other co-accused after hearing arguments of the prosecution and the defence.
Saeed and his co-accused are facing terror finance cases registered against them in the Pakistani cities of Lahore, Gujranwala, and Multan.
The Pakistani government is under pressure from the international community to investigate the activities of both the LeT and the JuD, besides the latter’s charity wing – the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Washington has offered a $10 million reward for anyone providing information to bring the JuD chief to justice.