June 1, 2011 / 7:52 PM / 7 years ago

Defendant unlikely to testify in Mumbai attack trial

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Pakistani-born businessman charged with supporting a deadly 2008 Islamic militant attack on Mumbai is not likely to testify at his trial, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

U.S. prosecutors were winding up their case against Tahawwur Rana, 50, a Chicago businessman with Canadian citizenship who is charged with supporting the raid, which killed 164 people.

The role played by Pakistan’s government in the raid was being closely watched amid strains in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship following the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by a U.S. special forces team in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad last month.

Asked by Judge Harry Leinenweber about the defense case, Rana’s lawyer Patrick Blegen said he expected to present a computer expert and possibly two other witnesses next week but was unlikely to call Rana.

The prosecution’s case was largely based on the five days of testimony by David Headley, an American with a Pakistani father, who described his role scouting targets in India and Denmark for militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, an officer of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate and an al Qaeda-linked militant leader.

Headley, 50, testified he used his childhood friend Rana’s immigration business as a cover story for his reconnaissance work and obtained Rana’s help in other ways.

The defense has argued Rana was unaware of the attack plots and that Headley was lying to justify his plea deal.

Rana faces up to life in prison if convicted. Headley has pleaded guilty to scouting targets for the Mumbai attackers and his plea spared him the death penalty and extradition to India. He still he faces several years in a U.S. prison.

Three FBI agents testified on Wednesday about evidence taken from Headley and Rana, as did an FBI translator who worked on the case.

A student hired by Rana also testified about a conversation the two had while delivering a check and an envelope to the Pakistani consulate, an errand which prosecutors say was intended to obtain a Pakistan visa for Headley.

Reporting by Andrew Stern; Edited by Peter Bohan and Bill Trott

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