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Rana pleads not guilty on 26/11 charges
Published on 27 Jan. 2010 12:03 AM IST
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Pakistan-born terror suspect Tahawwur Hussain Rana, charged with helping to plan the Nov 26, 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai that killed 166 people, has pleaded not guilty in federal court here. Rana, 49, a Canadian citizen, wore an orange jumpsuit and entered the court room with both his hands and feet shackled. He spoke very briefly in the arraignment before Judge Arlander Keys Monday, saying “Yes, your honour,” when asked if he understood the charges against him. During the arraignment proceedings lasting about five minutes, Rana entered a plea of not guilty to the three charges against him in the superseding indictment returned Jan 14 after being informed that if convicted he faces a possible life sentence. The three charges against him include providing material support for terrorism in the Denmark plot, the Mumbai attacks and to the Pakistan based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). The latter two counts carry a life sentence. He has been in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre since his arrest in October last year and will remain detained in federal custody. A status hearing has been scheduled for Feb 24 before US District Judge Harry Leinenweber. Rana’s boyhood friend and co-accused Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, also indicted on the charges of scouting targets for the Mumbai terror attacks for the LeT, will appear in the same court Wednesday for his arraignment. Both men have also been charged with planning a second attack against Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten that published a cartoon in 2005 that many Muslims found offensive. That attack was not carried out. Headley is accused of carrying out surveillance in both Mumbai and Copenhagen, where the newspaper is located. Prosecutors allege Rana allowed Headley to pose as an agent for his immigration business when he travelled abroad. Headley is cooperating with authorities. After being judged a flight risk, Rana was ordered held without bail. His attorney, Patrick Blegen, is appealing that decision. “His desire is to fight these charges and clear his name,” Blegen said after the arraignment. Also named in the case were Ilyas Kashmiri, who authorities allege is a Pakistani terrorist leader in contact with Al Qaeda, and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the Pakistani military. Both were charged with two counts of conspiracy relating to the Denmark case. Neither man is in US custody. Headley’s lawyer John Theis was also present at Rana’s hearing. None of Rana’s family members were present during the hearing. Blegen has also filed a motion in court asking the judge to appoint him as Rana’s attorney so he can be paid with public funds. Rana is not indigent, he said, but virtually no one can afford a defence in such a massive federal case, he said. “Virtually no one can afford to defend themselves in a large federal criminal case like this,” Blegen said adding that Rana does not have enough money to fund his defence, especially in case like this.”

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