Pakistan high court rejects appeal to jail Mumbai attack suspect

[JURIST] Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a Pakistani cleric accused by India of plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks cannot be jailed due to lack of evidence. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed  is the head of fundamentalist terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was allegedly behind the attacks. Pakistan put Saeed under virtual house arrest one month after the onslaught, where he remained except for a three-month period last summer, but the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered his release in October after finding insufficient evidence to link him to the Mumbai attacks or al Qaeda. The Supreme Court’s ruling could strain the already fragile relationship between India and Pakistan, which had recently begun peace talks.

The charges against Saeed had been filed under the Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Act and were related to speeches Saeed gave while visiting Faisalabad last year. It is claimed that he discussed the significance of Jihad and asked for funding for his charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front for the LeT. Saeed’s lawyer successfully argued that JuD was not a banned group. In September, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced that his government would indict seven suspects for their role in the attacks, also requesting further evidence from India that Saeed was involved in planning the attacks. Mumbai has suffered a number of terrorist attacks allegedly linked to the LeT in recent years, leading the government to consider controversial terrorism laws and to institute special courts to try suspects.

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