26/11: My client Rana not a flight risk, his attorney tells US court
Washington, June 24: Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, who was rearrested in Los Angeles on an extradition request by India for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, is not a flight risk, his attorney has told a US court and proposed a USD1.5 million bond for his release.
Rana (59), was recently released from jail on compassionate ground after testing positive for COVID-19. However, he was rearrested in Los Angeles on June 10 following an extradition request by India.
US District Judge Jacqueline Chooljian of the Central District of California has scheduled his bond hearing for June 30.
Rana should be released on a robust bond: secured by approximately USD1.5 million in property pledged by family and friends and under the supervision of his daughter, Lemaan Rana, a matriculating medical student and Ph.D candidate, Amy Karlin, the Interim Federal Public Defender said in the court submission on behalf of Rana.
India seeks his arrest on a number of offences, including the conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit forgery for the purpose of cheating, and murder under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He is sought for his role in 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Karlin argued that the criminal charges against Rana are largely identical to those for which he already went to trial -- namely, that Rana conspired with his childhood friend and Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist David Coleman Headley to carry out the terror attack in Mumbai which left 166 people, including six Americans, dead.
Arguing that Rana can show he is entitled to bail pending his extradition proceedings, his attorney told the court that as was the case there, any concern about his risk of flight is mitigated by both his substantial bond package and the difficulties he would face in leaving the country.
Rana faces health risks above and beyond what are faced by all individuals facing extradition, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is more, his extradition challenge will present a substantial question with a high likelihood of success. Finally, as the District Court Illinois already found, Rana's release would not endanger the community, the attorney said.
Rana's youngest daughter, Lemaan Rana, a US citizen has volunteered to act as the third party custodian for her father and to act as a surety on an unsecured bond in any amount set by the Court, Karlin said.
Lemaan graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2017, and currently works as a Graduate Student Researcher at Smith-Zhang Laboratory.
Rana's apartment in Berkeley was inspected by United States Probation in furtherance of Rana's anticipated compassionate release and was deemed an acceptable place for him to live.
Should Ms Rana move in the near future to Illinois (a move which will depend, in part, on the COVID-19 pandemic and whether her medical school classes will happen in person in the fall), Mr Rana could live with her there. Ms Rana has been in constant contact with her father during his years of incarceration. She stakes her entire future on his appearance in court, his attorney said.
The US government has opposed his bail arguing that if he were to flee to Canada, he may escape the possibility of a death sentence in India.
Given the stakes, allowance of bail in any amount would not guarantee Rana's presence in court. Granting bail would invite the possibility of embarrassing the United States in the conduct of its foreign affairs, straining its relationship with India, Assistant US Attorney John J Lulejian told a federal court in Los Angeles last week.
However, Karlin said that it is highly unlikely that Rana could somehow sneak across the border and remain there unnoticed, much less find someone in the United States to assist him in that criminal effort.
Moreover, if he had the inclination, assistance, and wherewithal to somehow make it to Canada, he would be subject to being extradited back to the United States for a supervised release violation, putting him back in the same position he is now, the attorney said.
The risk that Mr Rana will flee is miniscule. The court can and should accept this proposed bond package and fashion stringent conditions to further assure Mr. Rana's appearance. For example, Mr Rana could be placed on home confinement with electronic monitoring, and his internet use could be subject to monitoring by probation, she said.
Further Rana suffers from a number of severe chronic health conditions that have worsened during his term of incarceration, the attorney said.
He has suffered not one but two heart attacks while in federal custody. While Rana had been diagnosed with asthma and hypertension prior to incarceration, since being incarcerated he has been diagnosed with chronic renal failure (Stage II), chronic coronary heart disease, hypothyroidism, enlarged prostate, calcium deficiency, and acute coronary syndrome, the attorney said.
Rana has undergone cardiac catheterisation, angiogram, angioplasty, and has had a heart stent inserted due to coronary blockage. He has also suffered two vasovagal events (loss of consciousness) while in federal custody, triggered by myocardial infraction and heart disease.
His doctors have advised that he will require dialysis due to his chronic renal failure, and is, of course, at risk for an additional heart attack or vasovagal event, the attorney said.
The US government is likely submit its response later this week.