Rana trial wraps up, jury set to deliver verdict

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 13:41

Chicago: The prosecution and the defence
presented their final arguments for and against Tahawwur
Rana`s culpability in 26/11 attacks, with the former pleading
for justice to the Mumbai victims and the latter portraying
the Pakistani-Canadian as a man duped by conman David Headley.

A federal jury hearing the case is now set to begin
its final deliberations to decide Rana`s fate after the
closing arguments were presented in the court that is set to
deliver the verdict.

Rana himself, however, chose to remain silent and did
not testify at his trial that stretched for a fortnight.

The 50-year-old doctor is charged with providing
material support to terrorists by providing cover for main
accused Headley while he laid the groundwork for the Mumbai
attack in which 166 people died in a two-day siege.

The government prosecutors argued that there was
overwhelming evidence of not only Rana having the knowledge of
but also assisting and providing material support to his
childhood friend Headley in carrying out the attack in
November 2008.

They pleased for justice for the victims of the
ghastly terror attack in India.

"Those who died in Mumbai demand justice. You (the
jury) will find the truth... this man knew that his trained
terrorist friend (Headley) was bent on killing people," US
attorney Daniel Collins said to the 12-member jury in his
final arguments in a packed court room.

Not only media persons from various parts of the
world, but also government officials, community leaders and
Rana`s family members were present in the court.

Sitting in the court room, Rana, who has maintained
silence throughout the proceedings looked a bit tensed as the
trial came to end.

"What happened in Mumbai could have happened in
Copenhagen. 164 people died in flurry of bullets (in Mumbai).

Such horrific acts take place with help of a number of
people... weather you carried a gun or did something helped in
the planning or had the knowledge," Collins said.

Rana`s defence, on the other hand, asked the court not
to get fooled by Headley, who they said had fooled everyone
in the world including the FBI.

In an emotional appeal, defense attorney Patric Blegen
pleaded that his client was a religious man and was duped by
Headley who used him for executing his terrorist plans.

"Headley fooled everyone. Don`t let Headley fool you.

Please do not convict Rana in this case," Blegen pleaded.

He said Rana was simply a businessman who was
interested in expanding his business overseas including in
Mumbai, Lahore, Karachi and Denmark.

Headley exploited Rana`s business expansion plans and
duped him as he used the business to serve the terrorist
interest of both the ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba, he argued.

"He (Headley) lies under oath. He lies to accomplish
his goals," the defense attorney said.

"Headley sacrificed Rana for himself and his family,"
Blegen argued as he reiterated that he and his team presented
before the court over the past two weeks that Rana had no
knowledge about Headley`s terrorist intentions.

Rana`s lawyer Charles Swift said the government has to
prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that Rana was gulity.

The trial saw LeT operative turned government witness
Headley testifying for five days and making revelations about
the role of ISI in the Mumbai incident.

But Swift said that he wouldn`t believe Headley on
anything because he was manipulative.

"First Rana went to Mumbai before the attacks which
makes no sense and shows that Rana did not know of the
attacks," Swift said.

"Second, when Headley was preparing for the Denmark
attacks, Rana suggested that his 75-year-old business partner
Raymond Sanders come along. Again that is not indicative of
any knowledge," Swift said.

"We think that actions speak louder than any of the
words in this case and if you put those things together there
is clearly reasonable doubt," Swift said.

He said Headley was a "predator" who preys on people
and that he has been doing it for 30 years.

"Headley changed his stripes, he did Dr Rana in and
that`s and extraordinary change in character and I think what
we`ve learned from this trial is that David Headleys don`t
change," Swift said.

He said Rana had no knowledge of what Headley was
planning with the ISI people. The Army doctor, who was
declared a deserter after refusing a glacier posting, has
claimed that Headley was using his influence with the ISI
people to make it possible for him to return to Pakistan.

"The emails with Rana, Headley and ISI was there.
There was no e-mail from Pasha, Sajid or any terrorist

"E-mails show Dr Rana was systematically cut out from
any information that might be there," Swift said.

Asked about Rana`s state of mind, Swift said Rana was
calm. "He (Rana) is a religious man. Now is time for prayer
and that`s where he`s at. He has put his trust to the jury,"
Swift added.

"He has put his trust in two things. He came to
America because he believed in the American system and he
believes in God," Swift said.

"In American jury system is like anyone else. It is
like electing the Pope. When the smoke comes out of the
chimney, the journalists will know but before that we won`t
know that`s the way the American system works. This could be
over in an hour and we could all be having a conversation next
week and the week after," Swift said.


First Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 13:41

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