26/11: Jury selection continues in Rana trial

Over 50 potential jurors were questioned here in the trial of Tahawwur Rana, the Pakistani Canadian co-accused in the Mumbai attack case.

Last Updated: May 18, 2011, 10:52 AM IST

Chicago: Over 50 potential jurors were
questioned here in the trial of Tahawwur Rana, the Pakistani Canadian co-accused in the Mumbai attack case, with more than 20 excused by a judge who examined them on their views about
terrorism and Islam.

Out of 53 jurors, 29 were selected after Judge Harry D
Leinenweber cross-questioned the jurors one by one.

As jury selection continued at Rana`s trial at the
Dirksen Federal Courthouse, about 21 jurors were excused
because some outrightly said they viewed terrorism as a
negative thing and could not judge fairly.

Rana, 50, dressed in a brownish gray suit with grey
hair and beard, wearing spectacles, sat with his attorneys
Patrick Blegen and Charlie Swift.

Rana laughed in between the cross questioning, was in
a good mood, and seemed to listen to the jurors intently.

"He (Rana) has left the acceptability of potential
jurors to us," Blegen said after the jury questioning.
"We`ve made good progress... slow, but good," Blegen
told reporters here of the jury selection process.

Twelve jurors and six alternates will be chosen from a
total of 100 jurors who will be questioned.

The prosecution has the chance for six peremptory
challenges and defense has 10.

"We`re pleased that jurors were truthful and
forthcoming," Blegen said.

"The jury was a cross-section of the American people,
some of whom are mad at the American government," Swift said.

The attorneys said that the recent death of Osama bin
Laden would not have an impact on the trial.

"We`ll be able to select enough jurors by tomorrow,"
Blegen informed.

The trial is expected to unfold revelations about
Pakistan`s ISI and the attorneys said they were looking for
fair jurors who would apply fact and logic and leave emotion
aside.

Jurors were not scientific or had a hunch but they
applied a lot of feelings to their views about Islam and their
understanding of terrorism that Leinenweber asked them about.

About 21 jurors were excused because some outrightly
said they viewed terrorism as a negative thing and could not
judge fairly.

Blegen and Swift said that jurors should put their
emotions aside and decide the case based on evidence.

Rana is the co-accused in the case with David Coleman
Headley, who is also likely to testify at the trial and will
reveal how he planned to carry out the Mumbai attacks.

While Headley has pleaded guilty, Rana has not pleaded
guilty.

PTI