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Pre-trial for Rana in March
Published on 9 Feb. 2010 11:46 PM IST
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US prosecutors have asked a Chicago court to set a March date for a pre-trial conference to narrow the issues for the trial of Pakistan born terror suspect Tahawwur Hussain Rana, accused of involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The pre-trial conference date may be set at the Feb 24 status hearing of Rana, a Canadian citizen living in Chicago, Federal prosecutors said in an eight-page motion filed Monday in US District Court for northern district of Illinois. The prosecutors said they were seeking a pre-trial conference “on a date in establish a discovery and motion schedule relating to any classified information” that is expected to arise “due to the nature of the charges and the expected evidence”. Prior to that conference, the government will endeavour to identify all possible classified material and determine its potential applicability, nature and volume, the motion said. A pre-trial conference, called at the discretion of the court, is held among the opposing attorneys and the judge to narrow the issues to be tried. However, the alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative Rana wanted the pre-trial date to be set ahead of the Feb 24 status appearance saying that would be more appropriate “to ensure a fair and expeditious trial for him”. “Defendant has been in custody under extremely onerous conditions for nearly four months,” Rana said through his lawyer Patrick Blegen. “No discovery has been tendered since well before the return of the superseding indictment and the issues to be addressed in a pre-trial conference relate primarily to scheduling,” Blegen said in his four-page response filed Monday. Objecting to the timing requested by the government, he said the conference should be held “promptly” and “a month’s time should not be necessary for the government to determine what will be provided to the defence and when it will be provided”. Since his October 2009 arrest, Rana has been held in the ‘Secured Housing Unit’ on the 11th floor of the federal lock-up Metropolitan Correctional Centre, Blegen said. “Among other things, defendant is held essentially in solitary confinement, has very limited access to the law library, limited access to his family, cannot socialise with other inmates and cannot attend religious services,” he said. Rana had pleaded not guilty last month to charges in the 12-count superseding indictment that allege that he provided material support to terrorist plots in Denmark and India, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

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