Tahawwur Hussain Rana’s 'pre-trial conference' tomorrow



Chicago: Pakistani-Canadian terror suspect Tahawwur Hussain Rana, charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks, is set to appear before a US court here on Monday for a "pre-trial conference" during which federal prosecutors would discuss classified information relating to his case.

The pre-trial conference -- scheduled before US Judge Harry Leinenweber in the US District court, Northern District of Illinois -- will be a partly private meeting and Rana would not be required to be present throughout the hearing.

Rana would "appear in court only when he is entitled to be present," US attorney in Chicago Patrick Fitzgerald said.

Federal prosecutors would discuss classified information that may be used during the trial of 49-year-old Rana, a Chicago-based businessman.

This would be Rana's first court appearance after co-accused and Pakistani-American LeT operative David Coleman Headley pleaded guilty on March 18 to plotting the Mumbai attacks.

Rana has pleaded not guilty since his October 2009 arrest and claimed that he was duped by Headley.

However, according to Headley's plea agreement, he shared with Rana details of his trips to Pakistan and his association with LeT. In turn, Rana extensively helped him carry out the attacks in Mumbai.

Rana also allowed Headley to use his immigration office as a cover while he scouted for terror targets in Mumbai, the plea agreement stated.

Rana has also repeatedly been denied bail on the grounds that he is a flight risk.

Tomorrow's hearing would set in motion the process of examining classified information in the case.

The pre-trial conference will discuss the amount and type of classified information that may be used during Rana's trial. Rana's lawyer Patrick Blegen has not commented on how Headley's guilty plea will affect Rana's case.

The government has indicated that there exists voluminous discovery in the case, much of which is covered by the Classified Information Procedures Act, which is essentially a procedural tool for a court to address the relevance of classified information before it may be introduced for trial.

PTI