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'Convict Rana to ensure justice for 26/11 victims'

June 08, 2011 16:25 IST

Observing that those who died in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks deserve justice, federal prosecutors have urged the jury of a Chicago court to convict Tahawwur Hussein Rana as there is overwhelming evidence of his involvement.

There was overwhelming evidence of Rana not only having knowledge of but also assisting and providing material support to his childhood friend David Coleman Headley in carrying out the attack in November 2008, in which more than 160 people including six United States's nationals were killed, the prosecutors said.

"What happened in Mumbai could have happened in Copenhagen. 164 people died in a flurry of bullets (in Mumbai). Such horrific acts take place with the help of a number of people," US attorney Daniel Collins said while making the final closing argument at a federal Chicago court, bringing an end to the fortnight-long Rana's trial.

"Those who died in Mumbai demand justice. You (the jury) will find the truth; this man knew that his trained terrorist friend (David Coleman Headley) was bent on killing people," Collins said in his final argument 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 tense as the trial came to end.

This was unlike in the morning, when by body language he appeared to be confident, was seen smiling and waving at his family members sitting in the audience. Rana's attorney, Charlie Swift, later told reporters that his client is now praying.

"He has faith in the American system. He has faith in God," he said when asked about the mental setup of Rana at the end of the trial proceedings.

Now it is up to the 12-member jury to give its verdict. Rana has been charged in three counts of helping and assisting in terror plots related to 26 /11, attack on a Danish newspaper in Copenhagen and providing material support to terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

Before giving their verdict, the jury must arrive at a consensus. Those aware of the American judicial system said the jury can give its verdict as early as Wednesday or Swift said "we could still be discussing about it two weeks from now."

The jury is scheduled to begin their close door meeting on Wednesday from 9.30 am local Chicago time (8 pm IST).

Collins accused defence attorney Patric Blegan of not focusing on the real issue of whether Rana was involved in the terror acts and instead was bent upon proving that Headley was a liar. The US attorney said Rana knew that his trained terrorist friend (Headley) was seeking death and violence in Copenhagen.

"Does it make sense to send a terrorist (Headley) half way around the world to check the advertisement in a newspaper, which can be done over phone or over the internet? Why is he seeking an advertisement for a business that doesn't exist," Collins asked.

Arguing that Rana knew about the terrorist attack and let Headley use his business as a cover; besides helping his childhood friend in his planning and praising the men who conducted the terrorist operation in Mumbai, the US attorney urged the jury to convict him for the role he played.

Lalit K Jha and Himani Kumar In Chicago
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