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26/11 accused Rana refuses to testify at trial

June 08, 2011 10:43 IST

While the prosecution and defence presented closing arguments in the trial of 26/11 accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana, the Pakistani-Canadian doctor chose to remain silent and did not take to the stand.

Rana, a co-accused with David Coleman Headley in the Mumbai terror attacks, did not testify at his trial, as the federal jury was set to begin its deliberations.

After the presentation of the last witness on Tuesday, Judge Harry D Leinenweber asked Rana if he had consulted with his lawyers and wanted to testify. But a frail looking Rana, dressed in a brown suit, said that he did not want to testify.

Under United States law, Rana has the right to remain silent. In order to prove Rana guilty, the government needs to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

"The government could not prove its case so Rana is not testifying," said Charlie Swift, Rana's lawyer. While Headley has pleaded guilty of the Mumbai carnage, Rana has not.

Headley claims that Rana, who is his friend from a military school in Pakistan and the owner of an immigration agency, provided cover for him to survey places in Mumbai as he started to plan the attacks two years before the terrorists actually struck at the behest of the Inter Services Intelligence. Rana, on the other hand, claimed that he was duped by Headley.

If convicted, Rana faces a possible life sentence.

On April 25, in a second superseding indictment, US prosecutors charged four additional men, all Pakistani residents, in the 26/11 terror attacks that left 166 dead, including six Americans.

Rana was indicted by a federal grand jury under 12 counts on February 15 last year for planning the attacks, providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to carry out the strike and guiding Headley in scouting targets in Mumbai.

Rana, who had served as a doctor in the Pakistani Army Medical Corps before he migrated to Canada, is also accused in another charge of plotting an attack with Headley on a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that published sacrilegious cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

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