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Rana's plea for new trial rejected, sentencing on Dec 4

Source: PTI
June 12, 2012 12:25 IST
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A United States court has denied Pakistan-born Canadian terrorist Tahawwur Rana's motions for a new trial and set December 4 as his sentencing date.

Judge Harry Leinenweber at the US district court for the northern district of Illinois, eastern division, in a ruling denied Rana's motions for a new trial and for a judgment of acquittal.

In two different orders on June 7 and 8, Leinenweber also scheduled his sentencing for December 4.  However, no sentencing has been scheduled for his co-defendant David Headley.

Last year, Rana was convicted of knowingly conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist conspiracy to maim and murder people in Denmark, and of providing material support to the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

However, Rana was acquitted of conspiring to provide material support to the conspiracies to bomb public places in the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, where 168 people were killed.

Following this, Rana moved a motion for new trial and judgment for acquittal, which has now been denied by the Chicago court, this paving the way for his sentencing.

Rana, seeking a new trial, alleged that the court erroneously denied his pretrial request to sever the Denmark allegations from the Mumbai allegations.

However, the judge in his ruling did not agree with his argument.

'A rational jury could have found that he supported Lashkar by assisting Headley in the Denmark plot during the time that Lashkar was behind it,' the order said.

"There seems to be little dispute that Rana knew that Lashkar was a designated terrorist organisation and/or engaged in terrorism.

"If it accepted Headley's testimony, the jury could also have found that Lashkar backed the Denmark plot from late 2008 through February 2009, and that Rana knew of Lashkar's involvement," the judge said in his order, adding that the available evidences prove that Rana provided material assistance to the LeT.

According to the court, Rana's argument that Headley's dishonesty infected too much of the remaining evidence must be rejected.

'The jury was free to accept or reject Headley's interpretations of the evidence, including his interpretations of allegedly coded messages and his suggested changes to the translation of certain evidence, in light of all of the evidence before it,' the order said.

Federal prosecutors argue that the evidence demonstrated that Rana knowingly provided material support to Lashkar.

Rana "knew that Headley was working for Lashkar, and directly assisted him by, among many other steps, providing a cover story for Headley's travels and otherwise acting to conceal the true nature of Headley's activities."

Rana, according to federal prosecutors, after his arrest, admitted among other things that he knew Headley had been affiliated with Lashkar for five to six years; knew that Lashkar had changed its name to Jamat-ud-Dawa because the United States had banned Lashkar; knew Headley had trained with Lashkar e Tayiba.

Rana also admitted that he knew Headley acted as a link between Lashkar and Inter Services Intelligence, who provided guns to the Lashkar; that Headley was helping both organizations -- Lashkar and ISI; and knew co-defendant Sajid Mir was a Lashkar associate who was working with Headley, federal prosecutors said.

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