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US govt asks court to reject Rana re-trial plea

By Himani Kumar
January 31, 2012 16:47 IST
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The United States government has asked a court in Chicago to deny Pakistan-born Canadian Tahawwur Rana's plea for a new trial in cases related to the Mumbai and Denmark terror plots, arguing that the court was right in convicting him for aiding Lashkar-e-Taiba.

In June last year, after a three-week trial, 50-year-old Rana was convicted of providing material support to the banned LeT, and of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism in connection with a foiled plot involving Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten.

He was, however, acquitted of charges that he aided the terrorists who carried out the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Rana had appealed for a new trial in September last year citing that the jury was confused and that he did not get a fair trial.

According to documents released by the US District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, the federal government has argued that the court applied the correct legal standard, considering the totality of evidence.

The court correctly concluded that even considering Headley's statements, probable cause existed, it said.

The government argues that the court particularly noted a September, 2009 conversation in which Rana and Headley discussed Denmark as a "target" and said there was significant evidence regarding the defendant's knowledge and actions.

The court pointed to "at least four pieces of evidence in the affidavit (that) buttress this finding".

In the instant motion, defendant argued that, at the time of Rana's arrest, the government "only had knowledge regarding the activities of David Headley".

The government lawyers said the record demonstrated otherwise.

In the government's response to the motion, there was significant evidence regarding the defendant's knowledge and actions.

In denying defendant's motion to quash, the court pointed to this evidence, which included at least three recorded conversations in which defendant was a participant, defendant's involvement with David Headley's travel to Copenhagen and attempts to get Headley a visa.

Thus, the defendant has failed to demonstrate that the court erred, and that a new trial is warranted, the prosecution argued.

"In his final argument, defendant concludes, without the support of law or fact, that the district court erred by ruling against the defendant before and during trial.

"Defendant, however, fails to offer a single citation or any explanation for how the Court allegedly erred. This Court should reject defendant's undeveloped list of errors 'outright' and find that defendant waived each of the listed arguments," it said.

"In fact, defendant's list of errors is so cursory that the government has no meaningful ability to respond".

In arguing that the government failed to prove its specific allegations, the defendant Rana simply rehashes his sufficiency of the evidence argument, it said.

Among other arguments, defendant argues that he lacked knowledge of Headley's true activities, and thus neither he nor Headley constituted "personnel".

However, the government presented substantial evidence of defendant's knowledge and participation.

Thus, the evidence demonstrated that defendant had provided both himself and Headley as "personnel," and that defendant "concealed" the nature of such support, the government said.

Based on this evidence, a rational trier of fact could have, and did, find "the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt".

Defendant's argument, therefore, is without merit, court documents stated, they said.

"Because the government need only have proven that defendant conspired to, or did, provide one form of material support, the government need not address defendant's arguments about the other forms of material support for purposes of this motion.

"The government, however, submits that the evidence demonstrated each of the forms of material support alleged in the Second Superseding Indictment and Bill of Particulars.

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Himani Kumar in Chicago
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