Rana acquitted of terror plot
New Delhi disappointed over verdict
In a verdict that disappointed India, a US court on Friday acquitted Tahawwur Rana of plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The court, however, held him guilty of supporting Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and planning a strike in Denmark that will get Rana a maximum of 30 years in jail.
A 12-member jury here reached a split verdict after two days of deliberations and ruled that the 50-year-old Pakistani-Canadian was not guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people, including six Americans.
If he had been convicted on this count, he could have received a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Announcing the verdict, US District Judge Harry D Leinenweber said Rana was guilty of providing material support to the LeT, which had carried out the 26/11 attacks, and plotting to bomb Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper which had published cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
Rana faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on the two counts combined and remains in federal custody without bond, a US Justice Department statement said.
No sentencing date was set. Rana’s lawyers said they would appeal against the ruling as there was an “error” in the trial.
US Attorney Patrick J Fitzgerald said the acquittal of Rana was disappointing.
At the same time, he said they were “gratified” that the jury found Rana guilty of involvement in plotting a terror attack in Denmark and providing material support to the LeT, designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organisation.
He also justified the controversial plea bargain deal cut with Headley that spared him the death penalty and extradition to India, saying that not doing the pact would have been a “terrible mistake.”
Not a setback
A disappointed New Delhi made it clear that the US court’s verdict was not a setback for the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) investigation against Rana and his friend David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American operative of the LeT.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said in Bangalore that he was not satisfied with the outcome as there was enough evidence to link Rana to the Mumbai attacks.
“The fact remains that throughout the last few months when the trial was going on and in the course of evidence there were substantial linkages between those two (Rana and Headley) and the Mumbai attacks,” Krishna said. But it was a judicial process of a foreign country and could not be dictated.He laid stress on Pakistan conducting investigations on the basis of evidence.
He laid stress on Pakistan conducting investigations on the basis of evidence. “Pakistan has not been playing fair with us and they should come clean with us. This (evidence) is something which Pakistan must seriously consider.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs clarified that the NIA would file charge sheets against Headley, Rana and others after examining the verdict in the US court and after reviewing the documents and evidences that Washington was expected to provide Delhi.
Sources said one of the options New Delhi might consider was prodding Washington to file an appeal against the acquittal of Rana on one count of conspiracy in the court in Chicago. India has been closely monitoring the trial of Rana in the court in Chicago as it exposed the role of the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence in plotting the 26/11 carnage.