A US court has postponed the in-person extradition hearing of Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, who is sought for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, from April 22 to June 24.
US District Court Judge in Los Angeles Jacqueline Chooljian in her order on Monday moved the in-person extradition hearing of 59-year-old Rana to India to June 24.
The court’s order came after a conference between Rana’s lawyers and those representing the US Government. During the conference, the two sides agreed to hold the in-person hearing of Rana on June 24 at 1.30 pm local Los Angeles time.
Meanwhile, Rana’s attorneys in additional motion opposed his extradition to India.
“The government has not identified a single case since the founding of this country in which a person acquitted by an American jury has been extradited to a foreign country for trial on charges resting on the same conduct,” it said in its 17-page new submission on Monday.
The US Government has time till April 12 to submit its response, if any. The US government so far has supported the extradition of Rana to India.
Rana’s attorney argued that the US government’s position boils down to this: the term “offense” in the India-US Extradition Treaty means whatever the government needs it to mean.
In Article 2, the dual criminality provision, where the government needs the term to have a broad meaning, it refers to underlying conduct. In Article 6, it means “conduct” when needed to achieve a plea deal with Headley, and it means “elements” when needed to extradite Rana.
“The Court should reject this “heads the government wins, tails Rana loses” approach. Applying ordinary tools of interpretation, it should hold that the term “offense” in Article 6 refers to the underlying conduct, and it should deny extradition,” it argued.
Rana, a childhood friend of David Coleman Headley, was re-arrested on June 10 in Los Angeles on an extradition request by India for his involvement in the Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed. He has been declared a fugitive by India.
Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Headley was involved in plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. He was made an approver in the case, and is currently serving a 35-year prison term in the US for his role in the attack.
As per the India-US Extradition Treaty, the Indian government has requested the formal extradition of Rana, and the United States has initiated this extradition proceeding. The US Government has argued that Rana meets all the criteria warranting certification of his extradition to India.
These are: the court has both personal and subject matter jurisdiction, there is an extradition treaty between the United States and India that is in full force and effect, and the crimes for which Rana”s extradition is sought are covered by the terms of the treaty.
In his previous court submission on February 4, Rana’s attorney had argued that Rana’s extradition is barred under Article 6 of the United States-India extradition treaty because he had previously been acquitted of the offences for which his extradition is sought, and under Article 9 of the treaty because the government has not established probable cause to believe that Rana committed the alleged offences.