Chicago judge orders Mumbai terror trial documents unsealed

CHICAGO—Dozens of sealed court papers from a recent Chicago trial related to the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attacks will be released publicly, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, though it’s unclear whether they’ll contain any new revelations.

The order comes a month after jurors cleared businessman Tahawwur Rana of involvement in the 2008 siege that left more than 160 people dead in India’s largest city. They convicted him of lesser charges, including that he provided material support to a Pakistani militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which took responsibility for the attack.

Rana’s trial began just weeks after Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan and some observers had expected testimony could reveal details about alleged links between Pakistan’s intelligence agency, known as the ISI, and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

In the end, though, much that came out in testimony had been heard before, both through indictments and a report released by India’s government last year.

The 50-year-old Rana, who is jailed in Chicago as he awaits sentencing, shuffled into court for the five-minute hearing in an orange jumpsuit and with his legs shackled. The Pakistani-born Canadian looked relaxed, standing next to his attorneys with his hands clasped behind his back.

Judge Harry Leinenweber ordered the prompt release of 26 documents, including motions filed before and during the trial to exclude or admit evidence; four other documents will be unsealed only after sensitive sections are blackened out, and another 39 dealing with legal fees and similar financial matters will remain sealed, he said.

Although the request to unseal the documents came from prosecutors and a lawyer for the Chicago Tribune newspaper, defence attorney Patrick Blegen told the judge that, “Our position is that everything should be unsealed now.”

Blegen told reporters later that the soon-to-be released documents were unlikely to provide many details not already made public. He added that it still could take days for the first papers to be unsealed.

Rana faces up to 30 years in prison on two convictions, which also included providing material support in a plot never carried out against a Danish newspaper that in 2005 printed cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons angered many Muslims because pictures of the prophet are prohibited in Islam.

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