Chicago, Jun 8: In final arguments in the trial of Tahawwur Rana, a key accused in Mumbai attacks, US prosecutors defended a plea agreement with David Headley saying it helped FBI extract invaluable information from him about LeT, while the defence portrayed him as a conman who duped their client.
Government Attorney Vicky Peters told the jury that in the first two weeks of his arrest in 2009, Headley provided information on the entire leadership structure of LeT, its work structure and planning of terrorist plots.
She defended the plea agreement with Headley, a Pakistani-American, under which he will not be given death sentence and will also not be extradited to Pakistan, India or Denmark, saying that this was in exchange for the cooperation extended by the LeT operative.
The information provided by Headley was shared with other governments, she said, without mentioning India, adding that this helped in preventing a number of terrorist attacks.
While stating that there is no doubt that Headley is an "awful man", she added that to carry out an attack requires a lot of planning and manpower.
"Headley is a big part of the conspiracy. But it is this man (Rana) who helped Headley to travel to India, set up business there," Peters said.
She said under the guilty plea agreement, Headley would not be given death sentence, but the government would request the judge to give him as many years of imprisonment as he thinks it fit.
50-year-old Rana himself, however, chose to remain silent and did not testify at his trial in a court here that stretched for a fortnight.
"I waive the right," Rana said when asked by US District Judge Harry Leinenweber whether he wanted to testify.
Rana, who once worked as a doctor in Pakistani army, is charged with providing material support to terrorists by extending cover for main accused Headley while he laid the groundwork for the Mumbai attacks in which 166 people died.
A federal jury hearing the case is now set to begin its final deliberations to decide Rana's fate after the closing arguments were presented in the court that may deliver the verdict today.
Rana's defence yesterday asked the court not to get fooled by Headley, who they said had fooled everyone in the world including the FBI.
In an emotional appeal, defense attorney Patric Blegen pleaded that his client was a religious man and was duped by Headley who used him for executing his terrorist plans.
"Headley fooled everyone. Don't let Headley fool you. Please do not convict Rana in this case," Blegen pleaded.
He said Rana was simply a businessman who was interested in expanding his business overseas including in Mumbai, Lahore, Karachi and Denmark.
Headley exploited Rana's business expansion plans and duped him as he used the business to serve the terrorist interest of both the ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba, he argued.
"He (Headley) lies under oath. He lies to accomplish his goals," the defence attorney said.
"Headley sacrificed Rana for himself and his family," Blegen argued as he said that he and his team presented before the court over the past two weeks that Rana had no knowledge about Headley's terrorist intentions.
Rana's lawyer Charles Swift said the government has to prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that the Pakistani-Canadian was guilty.
Government prosecutors argued that there was overwhelming evidence of not only Rana having the knowledge of but also assisting and providing material support to his childhood friend Headley in carrying out the attack in November 2008.
They pleaded for justice for the victims of the ghastly terror attack in India.
"Those who died in Mumbai demand justice. You (the jury) will find the truth... this man knew that his trained terrorist friend (Headley) was bent on killing people," US attorney Daniel Collins said to the 12-member jury in his final arguments in a packed court room.
Sitting in the court room, Rana, who has maintained silence throughout the proceedings looked a bit tensed as the trial came to end.
The trial saw LeT operative-turned government witness Headley testifying for five days and making revelations about the role of ISI in the Mumbai attacks.
But Swift said that he would not believe Headley on anything because he was manipulative. He claimed that Headley was a "predator" who preys on people and that he has been doing it for 30 years.
He said Rana had no knowledge of what Headley was planning with the ISI people. PTI