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Tahawwur Rana trial begins in US

world Updated: May 18, 2011 00:37 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Washington

The trial of Tahawwur Rana, a Canadian citizen based in Chicago, began on Monday with the jury selection process that is likely to last several days. He is charged with helping David Coleman Headley lay the ground for Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Rana sat in a packed Chicago court in a suit with his defense team.

About 100 prospective jurors showed up for the selection process to answer a questionnaire about their opinion of Islam, Pakistan and other issues.

Much attention and headlines are being made by the trial in expectation of the role of Pakistan and its intelligence service ISI come up during the hearing.

But not much new is expected in terms of information.

Much of the hype is about mounting evidence of Pakistan's dismal record on terrorism, highlighted recently by the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden just a short distance from an elite military school in Abbottabad.

Rana is being represented by Charles Swift, a former US Navy lawyer who successfully argued on behalf of Hamadan, a Yemeni national who served as bin Laden's bodyguard and chauffeur, against his trial by a military commission. Hamadan was finally tried by a military commission and given a short sentence.

Headley opened a branch of Rana's First World Immigration Services in Mumbai as cover for his stay to map and photograph targets attacked by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists over two days in November 2008.

Rana is also accused of helping Headley plan an attack that was never carried out on a Danish newspaper that had carried a cartoon mocking Prophet Mohammad.

Headley was arrested in October, 2009 while leaving the US for Copenhagen. Rana, a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin, was picked up just a few days after.

Headley has pleaded guilty and has been cooperating with the authorities as a witness, and he is likely to depose during Rana's trial.

Rana, on the other hand, has held off. Citing Headley's ISI contacts, he unsuccessfully argued that he was acting on behalf of the state of Pakistan and was therefore protected from being tried in the US.