December 11, 2019 / 7:35 AM / 2 months ago

Pakistani militant accused of Mumbai attacks faces terror financing charges

FILE PHOTO: Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the banned Islamic charity Jamat-ud-Dawa, looks over the crowed as they end a "Kashmir Caravan" from Lahore with a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Caren Firouz/File Photo

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Pakistani court on Wednesday indicted Islamist militant Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of deadly 2008 attacks in Mumbai, on terror financing charges, a government prosecutor and defence lawyer said.

The charges were read as Saeed was present in the court, prosecutor Abdur Rauf Watto told Reuters.

Defence lawyer Imran Gill said his client pleaded not guilty.

Saeed is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), or the Army of the Pure, a militant group blamed by the United States and India for the four-day Mumbai siege, in which 160 people were killed. The dead also included several foreigners, including Americans.

Pakistan’s counter terrorism police arrested Saeed in July, days before a visit to Washington by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The indictment came ahead of a world financial watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting early next year to decide whether to blacklist Pakistan for its failure to curb terror financing.

The United States has offered a reward of $10 million for information leading to the conviction of Saeed, who has been arrested and released several times over the past decade.

Washington has long pressured Pakistan to try Saeed, who is designated a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations.

The Islamist has denied any involvement in the Mumbai attacks and says his network, which spans 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services, has no ties to militant groups.

Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Kim Coghill and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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