26/11: Jurors selected in Tahawwur Rana trial
Chicago: A 12-member jury, with six alternates, has been selected in the trial of Pakistani
Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, co-accused with David Coleman Headley in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The jurors, four men and eight women, were finally selected from a pool of possible 38, and sworn-in after being questioned by US District Court Judge Harry D Leinenweber about their understanding and views on Islam, citizenship and terrorism.
The jury, mostly consisting of minorities like blacks and Asians, was formed out of 100 jurors that were questioned.
Rana, 50, dressed in a black suit with grey beard and hair wearing spectacles was twitching his eyes at times and spoke to his attorneys in between as he watched the questioning process.
Judge Leinenweber asked jurors if they could treat Rana, a Canadian citizen the same way as a US citizen and judge fairly and if it would be difficult for them to be fair to Rana`s charge of "supportive terrorism". He also asked jurors if they found the Muslim faith and Islam offensive.
The selected jurors are not supposed to discuss the case among themselves and outside court and in front of family and friends.
They are also to avoid reading news related to the case in newspapers, television and magazines and avoid doing any independent research on the internet.
The jurors were asked to put any preconceived notions aside by the judge.
"We are pleased with the composition and proceedings of the jury selection because of the detailed questionnaire and the great selection process," Rana`s attorney Patrick Blegen told reporters here at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.
"We got a jury we most believe will give him (Rana) a fair trial," Blegen said.
The judge asked a lot of questions. Most times the type of jury decides the fate of the case. The judge did an excellent job and asked their feelings and emotional reactions, he added.
Charlie Swift, Rana`s other attorney said the jury that consisted of minorities would look favourably on Rana.
Opening statements will begin on Monday when the government presents its case.
"We are preparing opening statements. Stay Tuned," he said.
Asked about previews about the case to begin on Monday, Swift said "it is a good case with a fair process. Rana`s only crime is to be friends with David Headley." He didn`t do anything actively in Denmark and Mumbai. His only crime is that he was friend with David Headley. The
trial is about David Headley`s betrayal... betrayal of the US... and decent values, he said.
While Headley has pled guilty, Rana hasn`t.
Headley had claimed that Rana, a former military schoolmate in Pakistan and ran an immigration agency, provided him a cover to survey places in Mumbai when he started to plan the attacks two years before the terrorists struck at the behest of the ISI.
Rana, on the other hand, said that he was duped by Headley.
On April 25, in a second superseding indictment, US prosecutors charged four additional men, all Pakistani residents, in the 26/11 terror attacks that left 166 dead, including six Americans.
Rana was indicted by a federal grand jury under 12 counts on February 15 last year for planning out the attacks, providing material support to Lashkar-e-Toiba to carry out the bombings, and guiding Headley in scouting targets in Mumbai.
Headley, who was originally Daood Gilani, changed and anglicised his name in order to carry out the carnage without disclosing his Pakistani identity.
Rana, who had served as a doctor in the Pakistani Army Medical Corps before he migrated to Canada, is also accused in another charge of plotting an attack with Headley
on a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.
If convicted, Rana faces a possible life sentence.
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