Pakistan hands 5-year prison term to Islamist linked to 2008 Mumbai attacks
Islamabad, Jan 8 (efe-epa).- A Pakistani court on Friday handed out a five-year prison term to Zakiur Lakhvi, accused by the United States and India of organizing the 2008 serial terror attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, in which 166 people had been killed.
Judge Ejaz Ahmad Buttar, presiding over an anti-terror court in the eastern city of Lahore, convicted the Islamist for running a medical dispensary to collect and distribute funds for carrying out terrorist activities, local media outlets reported.
Lakhvi has been named by the United Nations, the US and India as one of the leading figures behind the 2008 serial attacks in Mumbai in his role as the leader of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taibla (LeT).
In recent years, the hardliner has been in and out of Pakistani prisons on charges linked to the attack, with his releases often causing furious reactions from New Delhi.
Lakhvi’s sentence comes after in recent months Hafiz Saeed, leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa – an alleged front organization of LeT – has been slapped with prison terms in multiple terror financing cases along with other members of the group.
The US has declared a $10 million reward for Saeed. But the Islamist leader had moved around freely within Pakistan until recently and participated in meetings and gave speeches even as his group continues to be popular for its charity work.
Saeed and Lakhvi have been named as the masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai bombings, in which coordinated attacks were carried out at a train station, a Jewish center, many restaurants and hotels in India’s financial capital, including the iconic Taj Mahal hotel.
After years of ignoring international accusations, in recent years Pakistan has faced increased pressure to curb terror activities planned on its soil and act against militant groups, with Islamabad trying to avoid blacklisting by a global watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
A number of accused have been sentenced in recent months after the watchdog in October kept Pakistan in the grey list, figuring countries – monitored by the group – which do not take full measures to combat money-laundering and terror financing. EFE-EPA