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Chicago court refuses Rana's bail plea

December 03, 2009 15:50 IST

Despite fervent efforts to depict Tahawwur Hussain Rana as a man of peace and a reader of Muhammad Iqbal's poetry, a Chicago judge refused to grant 48-year-old Rana bail, on Wednesday, and scheduled the next hearing on December 16, for the government's response.

Though Rana is charged with conspirator David Headley for planning attacks on a Danish newspaper for publishing cartoons mocking Islam, an investigation is on about their involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Though Rana, who was arrested in October, maintains that the attack on a newspaper cannot constitute terrorism, the prosecutors have said the discussion about bombing the National Defence College in India raises the bar to terrorism.

It could be several weeks before Rana's trial would start, officials said, following the bail hearing before Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan in US District Court in Chicago. The defense lawyer Peter Blegen is also seeking  to impress the judge that Rana, reportedly a multi-millionaire has roots in Chicago and friends among Indians and Pakistanis and  has no intention of fleeing the country. The government's response is schedules for December 16.

Meanwhile, the authorities cancelled, without giving a reason, the detention and preliminary hearing for David Coleman Headley, scheduled for December 4. There is no new date and no further information available at this time, said Randall Samborn, the assistant attorney.

Rana is charged with providing material support to Chicago's Headley, 49, who is accused of plotting to kill Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. Rana, according to the court papers, facilitated Headley's travels. Prosecutors dismissed the efforts to rehabilitate Rana's image.

"Rana spent a significant amount of time with [Headley] — a lot more time than the three witnesses who were put here today," Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Collins said, adding  "those witnesses didn't know the real Rana," the Chicago Sun-Times wrote.

'The word 'target' is that man's word, it came out of his mouth,' Collins asserted  pointing to Rana and referring to a recorded phone call. The government argues Rana knew about Headley's alleged intentions to target the Danish newspaper and also took part in a phone discussion about targeting the Army college in India.

Arthur J Pais in New York