LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani Islamist militant Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of deadly 2008 attacks in Mumbai, pleaded not guilty on Friday in a second case on charges of financing terrorism, a government prosecutor and a defense lawyer said.
Saeed, who was indicted on similar charges in another case on Dec 11, was presented in an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, prosecutor Abdur Rauf Watto told Reuters.
Defence lawyer Imran Gill said the second case was related to Saeed’s charity operations. “The militant charities the accused ran collected illegal funds,” Watto said.
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. Foreigners, including Americans, were among the dead.
Pakistan’s counterterrorism police arrested Saeed in July, days before a visit to Washington by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The indictments came ahead of a meeting of world financial watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) early next year that will 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.
Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari; Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Catherine Evans