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The man behind Rajaratnam's sentencing

Last updated on: October 14, 2011 16:59 IST

The man behind Rajaratnam's sentencing

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Suman Guha Mozumder in New York


Raj Rajaratnam's 11-year sentence might be far less than what United States District Attorney Preet Bharara sought, but the legal eagle and his team have won a "huge victory," felt Ravi Batra, another high-profile desi lawyer in Manhattan.

"It is a sad day because no one can be happy when a person is going to jail for 11 years and has to pay a $10 million fine," Batra told Rediff.com.

"Yet, one cannot help but celebrate America's unequalled ability to self-correct and re-calibrate societal behaviour under law. The three American heroes in this sordid mess are the compassionate jury, who prayed for Rajaratnam's family even as they found him guilty on all counts; US Attorney Preet Bharara, the new Sheriff of Wall Street; and Judge Richard Howell, who heard the prosecutors, the probation department, defence counsel's plea that a life's ledger of 'good deeds' and 'illness' count at sentencing, and did so," Batra said.

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Image: United States District Attorney Preet Bharara.

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The man behind Rajaratnam's sentencing

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"Then, in deference to Rajaratnam's overwhelming guilt beyond appeal captured in real-life wiretaps, beyond a lawyer's creative imagination-based arguments, ordered to surrender rather than stay free pending appeal. As a lawyer, I feel ennobled by this process as freedom, compassion, as well as 'right versus wrong' is defined in the well of a courtroom either poorly or elegantly. Here, in its closing, it was elegantly done even if the trial was excessive-by-the-defence, given the razor-sharp real-life motivations captured in hushed tone or excitement for a jury captivated thereby," he added.

He said that Bharara's victory "will resound in history", and that the DA's prosecutions "have been elegant and aggressive".

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Photographs: Reuters
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The man behind Rajaratnam's sentencing

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Asked if loopholes in the prosecution's argument compelled the judge to deliver a lesser sentence, Batra said, "The prosecutors asked, as they must, for the ceiling of the sentencing guidelines. For, their 'ask' is itself a message to others who are still doing what Rajaratnam did. The defence asked for six-and-half years. The probation department, giving credit to his (Rajaratnam's) charitable work, but ignoring his medical condition, suggested 15 years. The judge, with the power of God in court, was angry and compassionate at the same time, and 'settled' the ledger book's entries of 'bad acts' and 'good acts'. America at its finest!"

In response to a question, Batra said Rajaratnam can appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals against his sentence as well as his conviction.


Photographs: Reuters
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