The Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, wanted by Indian authorities for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, will remain in the United States, while a federal judge in Los Angeles assesses whether the accused will be extradited to India.
At the request of the Indian government, the in-person extradition hearing of Rana was held in the court of magistrate judge Jacqueline Chooljian in Los Angeles. The defence attorneys and prosecutors were ordered on Thursday, 24 June, to file additional documents by 15 July. Rana will remain in federal custody, news agency AP reported.
Indian authorities claim that Rana conspired with his childhood friend David Coleman Headley to support the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba in orchestrating the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six Americans, and injured more than 200 people.
Prosecutors claim that Rana’s immigration law centre in Chicago, as well as a satellite office in Mumbai, were allegedly used as a front for their terrorism activities between 2006 and 2008. On the other hand, Rana’s attorneys assert that he was not aware of Headley’s terrorism plot and was merely trying to help a childhood friend.
Stating that Headley is a serial liar who has deceived the US government multiple times in several criminal cases, the prosecutors asked for Headley’s testimony to not be viewed as credible.
Meanwhile, the attorneys alleged that Headley had used Rana to further his terrorism efforts without the latter’s knowledge.
Currently serving a 35-year prison term in the US for his role in the attack, Headley was made an approver in the case.
Meanwhile, Rana has opposed extradition, arguing that he has already been convicted by a US court in Chicago.
With his ankles in shackles, Rana wore a white jumpsuit and black glasses, as well as a mask at the hearing, reported AP.
The Denmark Case
Rana was earlier convicted in a federal court in Illinois in 2011, of a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism in Denmark for a thwarted plot to attack a Danish newspaper in retaliation for publishing cartoons that depicted the Prophet Mohamed in 2005.
Rana was sentenced to a 14-year prison term in the Denmark-related case, but in June 2020, his punishment was reduced to time served after he claimed that he had contracted COVID-19 in a federal California prison, court documents show, reported AP.
Moreover, US prosecutors failed to prove that Rana had directly supported the Mumbai attacks. Additionally, Rana’s defence said that because he has been acquitted of the Mumbai-related charges in the US, extraditing him to India would be tantamount to double jeopardy.
Only one of the 10 Mumbai terrorists, Ajmal Kasab, survived after the attack and went on trial. He was convicted, sentenced to death in India, and hanged.
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