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US: Court adjourns Rana's bail hearing

Last updated on: December 03, 2009 08:42 IST

A Chicago court has adjourned the hearing on the bail application of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, one of the two LeT operatives nabbed by FBI in October on charges of plotting a major terror attack against India, till December 15.

US Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan heard the case of 48-year-old Rana, a Pakistan-born US-based Canadian citizen, and said she wanted to take time to review the evidences that the prosecution will give her, including the five-hour long video of Rana's statement to the FBI agents after his arrest.

During the one-and-a-half-hour long hearing, Rana's lawyer Patrick Blegen produced three witnesses, including Rana's brother-in-law, who spoke about his "honest and trustworthy character".

The court adjourned the matter till December 15. Earlier, the hearing in the case of Rana's accomplice David Coleman Headley (49), which was scheduled for December 4, had been indefinitely deferred.

Headley's hearing was scheduled before US Magistrate, Judge Arlander Keys. Rana along with his school time friend Headley is also under investigation for possible links to the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai last year that killed 166 people.

During the hearing, one of the witnesses Mohammad Arshad Mirza, a local eye doctor, said he knew Rana since they were members of 'Iqbal Society', a body that exhorted Muslims to be educated and organised people and to reach their goals through non-violent, peaceful and constitutional means.

He said the cartoons of Prophet Muhammed, published in a Danish newspaper, was discussed once there and "we said that this is unfortunate, but what can one do. This is the kind of time we are living in".

Another witness Raja Muhammed Yaqoob said about 20 people, including members of Rana's family met last Sunday to understand Rana's case and discuss how we can help him. "The consensus among everyone was that Rana is a trustworthy, honest and decent person".

Rana's brother-in-law Athar Akhtar deposed "he was a well-educated person and has never expressed any opinion in favour of violence. The whole family is well educated".

The witnesses said they did not have any conversation regarding Illyas Kashmiri with Rana. Prosecutor Assistant US Attorney Dan Collins said the witnesses don't know real Rana, who maintained his relationship with Headley and talked about 'targets'. He also said Rana had arranged for Headley's travel to Denmark and other countries.

"He spent a significant amount of time with [Headley] -- a lot more time than the three witnesses who were put here today," Collins said, adding they just don't know this guy the way the evidence reveals him to be.

"The word 'target' is that man's word, it came out of his mouth," he said referring to a recorded phone call.

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