Washington: A US court has dismissed a status conference motion moved by imprisoned businessman Tahawwur Rana sought for his involvement in the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attack, stating that it anticipates a ruling on the Pakistani-origin Canadian’s extradition to India within 30 days.
Judge Jacqueline Chooljian of the US District Court in the Central District of Los Angeles, California held the last hearing on this issue in June 2021 and the last set of papers was filed in July 2021. The court is yet to give a verdict on the US government’s request to extradite Rana to India.
In a motion moved through his lawyer last month Rana, 62, asked for a status conference – a court-ordered meeting between the prosecution and defence to discuss the case details and a plea bargain.
“The last pleading in the case was filed on July 21, 2021. Given the passage of time and Rana’s continued incarceration, it appears appropriate for the Court and counsel to discuss the current status of the matter,” his lawyer said.
Rana’s counsel suggested that the status conference be held on April 25. However, the court in an order on April 17, dismissed the motion.
“To the extent the Motion requests that the Court update the parties as to the status of this matter, it is granted. The parties are advised that the Court anticipates issuing a ruling in this matter within thirty (30) days.
“To the extent the Motion requests that the Court hold a status conference, it is denied because it is the Court’s current view that such a proceeding is unnecessary and will not assist the Court in its resolution of this matter,” the court order said.
“However, in the event, there are new/additional developments that the parties believe should be brought to the Court’s attention before it rules, counsels are directed to confer and are granted leave to file a joint status report regarding the same within seven (7) days,” it said.
During court hearings, federal prosecutors argued that Rana was aware that his childhood friend David Coleman Headley was involved with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and that by assisting Headley and affording him cover for his activities, he was supporting the terrorist organisation and its associates.
Rana knew of Headley’s meetings, what was discussed, and the planning of the attacks, including some of the targets.
The US government asserted that Rana was part of the conspiracy and there is probable cause that he committed the substantive crime of commissioning a terrorist act.
Rana’s attorney on the other hand opposed the extradition.
In the 2008 Mumbai attack, perpetrated by the LeT members, 166 people, including six Americans, were killed.
The federal prosecutors said that because members of the conspiracy committed acts resulting in death with the intention of causing death, or at minimum committed those acts knowing its imminent dangers, there is sufficient evidence that the elements for murder would be satisfied.
“Under Indian law, other members of the conspiracy also would be liable for murder, even if they were not physically present,” the court said, adding that it was foreseeable that the attacks would result in several deaths.
Rana knew that Headley was working with terrorists and that LeT and other co-conspirators were planning attacks in Mumbai. He also was aware of the location of some of the potential targets, such as the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and its second floor, because he and Headley had discussed those locations.
“Thus, Rana understood that by helping Headley and allowing him to use his immigration office in Mumbai as a cover, LeT and the other terrorists would be able to carry out their attacks. Further, because Headley had a co-conspirator meet Rana in Dubai, UAE, and warn him of the upcoming attacks, Rana was in no doubt of what was going to happen,” according to the federal prosecutors.