26/ 11 Mumbai terror attacks | U.S. court rejects bail plea of Tahawwur Rana


Key accused in Mumbai terror attack continues to pose a “significant risk of flight”, says Magistrate.

A U.S. court has rejected the bail plea of Tahawwur Rana, key accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack lodged in a Los Angeles prison, who awaits extradition to India.

Rana had moved court seeking release from prison on account of being reinfected with COVID-19 till the extradition hearing is finalised. The next extradition hearing is in February 2021.

He offered that his location could be monitored through ankle bracelet with GPS and his daughter who is pursuing online education or his mother-in-law could be made custodians to monitor his movement at home.

Rana is wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the 2008 terror attack case that claimed 166 lives.

He was released from prison in June after an Illinois court commuted his jail sentence (scheduled to get over in September 2021) as he tested positive for COVID-19. He was provisionally arrested by the federal police in the wake of the pending extradition request from India.

 

In his second bail plea, Rana invoked the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of individuals and property.

Dismissing his plea, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian said in an order dated December 10 that Rana continued to pose a “significant risk of flight”.

“Notwithstanding its consideration of such information, the Court ultimately concluded that even a location monitoring condition combined with the proposed bond/other conditions would not negate the significant risk of flight. The Court’s view has not changed,” the order accessed by The Hindu said. His first bail plea was rejected in July. He then moved a motion for his release on August 11, offering to the court six pieces of real property owned by family and friends, having in excess of $1.5 million in equity, $18,000 from family members and unjustified affidavits of surety totalling $140,000 from multiple family members as a condition to grant him bail.

The court also rejected that Rana’s mother-in-law Mushraf Jahan could be appointed a co-custodian.

“Second, the Extraditee proposes a new third party custodian — his mother-in-law, Mushraf Jahan — who is willing to serve as a co-third party custodian along with the Extraditee’s daughter…..While the Court appreciates the sacrifice that Ms. Jahan has expressed a willingness to make, the Court is not persuaded that she — individually or in combination with her granddaughter — could ensure the Extraditee’s compliance with conditions of release/otherwise adequately fulfil the responsibilities of a third party custodian,” the court said. The court was informed that Jahan (79) was currently in Pakistan as she was unable to return due to the pandemic. Born in India, she arrived in the United States around 2001, received a green card and became a citizen four to five years ago. She has resided at a specified address in Illinois for approximately two years, but was then in Pakistan with family. She has never worked but her family owned land in Pakistan.

“Assuming that the Extraditee is indeed especially vulnerable to reinfection with COVID-19 at MDC, he does not explain how such factual circumstance affords a legal basis for his release here. ….To the extent such facts are offered to suggest that the Extraditee’s ill health and vulnerability to further illness render him non-dangerous, the Court has already found that he does not present a current danger to the community. (July Order). To the extent such facts are offered to suggest that the Extraditee is not a flight risk, he fails to explain how that is the case. In short, the Court is not persuaded that the Extraditee’s risk of reinfection with COVID-19 affords any legal basis for his release beyond that which the Court has already considered and addressed in its July Order. It is therefore ordered that the Motion is denied,” the U.S. court said.

The Pakistani-Canadian citizen who was arrested in 2009 has challenged the extradition and filed a plea against it in the U.S court on November 25. He was convicted for providing material support to the LeT in 2013. Unlike another prime accused David Coleman Headley, Rana did not enter into a plea bargain with the U.S. and he was placed under “provisional arrest” after he walked out of prison in June as the jail term that was to end in September 2021 was commuted.

The extradition document said in September 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intercepted a conversation between Rana and Headley that the “nine LeT attackers who had been killed during the attacks should be given Pakistan’s highest military honor”.

Ten armed men who were trained by Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and officials in the Pakistan security establishment launched coordinated terror attacks at 12 locations in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 killing 166 people including six Americans. The tenth LeT terrorist Ajmal Kasab was caught and later hanged to death at a Pune prison in 2012.

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