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Oprah in the middle of 26/11 trial case!

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey has unexpectedly found herself in the middle of the 26/11 trial of terror suspect Tahawwur Rana, after one of the jurors requested to be excused to watch her show.

world Updated: May 18, 2011 10:17 IST

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey has unexpectedly found herself in the middle of the 26/11 trial of terror suspect Tahawwur Rana, after one of the jurors requested to be excused to watch her show.

The potential juror asked US District judge Harry Leinenweber that she be excused from jury questioning of the 50-year-old Pakistani-Canadian because she had a ticket for one of the final episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Judge Leinenweber told the juror that though she could watch the show, she was not off the hook completely. She was asked to return to court on Wednesday, according to a spokesman for the US attorney's office.

Perhaps only Oprah could have linked the two major federal trials happening right now in Chicago.

It was the second time that judges have granted scheduling exceptions to allow potential jurors to attend the show of Winfrey, who is wrapping up production of her wildly popular daytime television programme after a 25-year run.

During jury selection in the retrial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, a judge eventually dismissed a woman who also had the highly prized tickets for the show.

The first day of jury selection began yesterday in the trial of Rana on charges he helped a friend who scouted targets for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which about 166 people were killed.

A panel of 100 jurors have been called to the Dirksen US Courthouse to fill out questionnaires and be questioned by attorneys for potential selection to the jury deciding Rana's fate.

When a member of his staff informed him of the conflict, Leinenweber, who is presiding over the case, quipped to the attorneys with a smile: "Who's going to be the responsible for telling her she can't go to Oprah?"

"No one as it turns out." Leinenweber said he would tell the juror she could attend the taping today and then return tomorrow to the courthouse to be questioned.

The trial of Rana who is accused with David Coleman Headley for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks began here yesterday.

Rana, a 50-year-old Chicago businessman, is accused of helping his childhood friend, Headley, to scout targets for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.