- Canadian businessman of Pakistani descent Tahawwur Rana, a key accused in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack bail has been rejected by the US Court
- Rana, 59, a childhood friend of David Coleman Headley, was arrested again in Los Angeles on June 10 at the behest of India for extradition
- Mumbai terror attack accused Rana, continues to pose a significant “risk of flight”, says Magistrate
A U.S. court denied the bail plea of Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana of Pakistani origin, a key accused in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, and declared by India a fugitive, claiming that he had not negated the “risk of flight”.
Rana, 59, David Coleman Headley’s childhood friend, was rearrested in Los Angeles on June 10 on India’s extradition request for his involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attack in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed.
Pakistani-American terrorist LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) Headley was involved in planning and plotting the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008. He was made an approver in the case and for his role in the crime, is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence in the US.
In his order on December 10, Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian of the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles claimed that Rana has “presented a robust bail package” and offered conditions that greatly reduce the flight risk.
However, the “Court cannot find that he has negated the risk of flight” and as such, granted the US government’s request for Rana’s continued detention.
In the meantime, the US government in court backed India’s appeal that the documents submitted by it in favour of Rana’s extradition should not be revealed to the public.
Apparently, the extradition documents presented by India contain information about his involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attack that would be shared with Rana.
While in extradition matters, the United States has no affirmative discovery obligations, in this case it has agreed to provide Rana with a document in its possession from an unrelated ‘state court’ proceeding in India. “India has demanded that the United States take action to prevent the distribution of this document to the public,” US Attorney Nicola T Hanna said on Friday in a court submission.
Rana has informed the United States that he may seek to introduce materials provided as discovery and labelled “general discovery materials” and “sensitive discovery materials” in United States v Kashmiri Case in opposition of the United States’ Request for Extradition. These materials for discovery are subject to a protection order imposed in the Illinois Northern District, it said.
The judge claimed in his December 10 order that Rana was currently facing several criminal charges arising from India in connection with his alleged actions, which at least to some degree overlaps with and formed the basis for the federal criminal charges against Rana in Chicago related to the terrorist attack in Mumbai in November 2008.
In his bail plea, Rana said that his health, including two heart attacks while in custody and two weeks of illness earlier this year, is in poor shape. Rana claimed that he is not dangerous to the community, which was opposed by the US government.
The judge found that Rana himself did not carry out any violent actions and instead provided the Denmark plot with material support by furnishing Headley with business cards, sponsoring his business cover, and facilitating him with logistical support for his travels and plots.
The nature of the crimes charged in India relating to the Mumbai attack also weighs in favor of finding that Rana is a threat to society, although she wrote that the weight of the facts on it is far less definitive.
The charges of conspiracy to commit murder and murder are clearly extremely serious and the letters filed by the government bring home the devastating effect on the victims and their families that the Mumbai attack had and continues to have the judge wrote.
The weight of the evidence provided to date on such charges against Rana is not overwhelming. The other two charges are much less severe in and of themselves, Conspiracy to Commit Forgery for the Purpose of Cheating and Conspiracy to Use as Genuine a Forged Document or Electronic Record, but Chooljian wrote that the weight of the proof provided to date against Rana as to those charges is far greater.
Given Rana’s substantial foreign connections, especially to Canada, and the possible death sentence awaiting him in India if he is extradited and convicted of the most serious pending charges, there is no doubt in the Court’s mind that Rana is a flight risk, the judge wrote.