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26/11: US court holds Rana not guilty

CNN-IBN
Jun 10, 2011 at 12:59pm IST

Chicago: Chicago businessman Tahawwur Hussain Rana on Thursday was found not guilty on charges that he assisted in carrying out the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed more than 166 people.

However, he was convicted by the jury for his role in a thwarted plot targeting a Danish newspaper that printed controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

ALSO SEE Rana does not testify at his trial

Court spokesman Randall Samborn said, "Rana is convicted of providing material support to thwarted plot."

Rana was also found guilty in assisting the terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Toiba.

ALSO SEE Rana, Headley part of 26/11 terror team: Attorney

Defence lawyer Charles Swift said Rana was in a state of shock after hearing the verdict while his wife and 2 daughters broke down in court.

Rana will face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on the two counts combined and will remain in US custody without a bond. Lawyers will appeal against that verdict.

ALSO SEE Rana: From a doctor to a terror convict

This will come as a blow to US prosecutors, who had alleged that Rana was aware of the 26/11 plan and was in touch with terrorist groups and their leaders in Pakistan.

Rana's attorney on the other hand pleaded not guilty and said that Headley had fooled him.

ALSO SEE Chronology: Tahawwur Hussain Rana's trial in US

The Indian government has withheld any comment on Rana's acquittal and has limited its first reactions to pressing Pakistan to go after the real masterminds, that is, serving officers of the ISI.

Government sources said, "The Chicago trial and David Headley's testimony has laid threadbare ISI's links with LeT and ISI's role in the Mumbai attacks. We expect Pakistan to fully unravel the conspiracy, investigate, arrest and put on trial the real masterminds of 26/11. Those actions will help address the trust deficit. We also hope Pakistan will demonstrate progress in the now stalled Mumbai trial in Rawalpindi."

Special Secretary of Internal Security UK Bansal, however, said that he does not see the verdict as a setback. "We don't rely overly on prosecution in other countries. We will put evidence in our country," he said.

He also said that Indian agencies will study the judgement.

The verdict came after almost three weeks of trial at the Chicago court. Rana is the second defendant to be convicted, while co-defendant Headley pled guilty to all 12 counts against him. Six remaining defendants are believed to be in Pakistan.

One of Rana's attorney Patrick Blegan said, "We do not know what the jury was thinking. We are disappointed." He also went on to say, "This is a split verdict. Mumbai part of the verdict is very significant as jury did not find him guilty in the Mumbai terrorists attacks."

Rana will face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on the two counts combined and will remain in US custody without a bond. Lawyers will appeal against that verdict.

This will come as a blow to US prosecutors, who had alleged that Rana was aware of the 26/11 plan and was in touch with terrorist groups and their leaders in Pakistan.

Rana's attorney on the other hand pleaded not guilty and said that David Headley had fooled him.

The verdict came after almost three weeks of trial at the Chicago court. Rana is the second defendant to be convicted, while co-defendant Headley pleaded guilty to all 12 counts against him. Six remaining defendants are believed to be in Pakistan.

Rana's terrorism trial drew international attention, particularly for the startling testimony of the prosecution's star witness, convicted terrorist David Coleman Headley.

Rana was indicted by a federal grand jury under 12 counts on February 15, 2010 for planning out the attacks, providing material support to LeT to carry out the bombings, and guiding Headley in scouting targets in Mumbai in the process.

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