The verdict of a Chicago court jury to acquit Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana of charges of involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks is disappointing, a top United States government attorney said on Friday.
"We are disappointed in the not guilty verdict on the Mumbai attacks," US Attorney Patrick J Fitzgerald said after a Chicago jury gave its verdict on the Rana case. At the same time, the jury found Rana guilty of being involved in plotting a terror attack in Denmark and providing material support to Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
"We are gratified by the guilty verdict of providing material support for the Lashkar. And we are gratified by the guilty verdict to provide material support to the conspiracy in Denmark," the US attorney said.
When asked what went wrong on the 26/11 charges that killed more than 160 people, Fitzgerald said, "I do not know, the government had the burden of proof. We put our evidence forward and the jury found that we did not meet the burden of proof."
Responding to a question, the US attorney said that he understands that Rana was acquitted of a very serious charge related to the Mumbai terrorist attack.
"What we are saying is that we embrace the jury's verdict and where the jury disagrees with us, we accept that. However, what they did convict him for was very serious given that he was supporting Lashkar's activities in India. We are not going to say, we got everything we wanted," he said.
Fitzgerald disagreed with the defence attorney's assessment that it was a split verdict. "First of all jury do not have to be entirely consistent, but I am not seeing any inconsistency here. There are two separate charges," he said. "You could find that the government failed to meet its burden to the India plot showing the knowledge he had in advance and they found that we failed to carry that burden, so he was acquitted. You will also find separately that we showed our burden that he was involved in Denmark plot, because there was more evidence by the time he took steps in Denmark from what he knew from the India plot," he said.
"It is very clear that he actually took part in the Denmark plot. I do not find that to be inconsistent. There was more evidence of support for Lashkar and the defendant confessed to it. He said in part that he knew David Headley was working for Lashkar and has been trained by them. So, I think that jurors are allowed to weigh the evidence and we are not concerned about that," the US attorney said.