It will remain a mystery for ever as to why the 12-member jury of a Chicago court acquitted Tahawwur Husain Rana from his involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attack that killed more than 160 people, as charged by federal prosecutors in one of the three counts.
As the 12-member jury decided not speak to the media after the verdict was announced and opted to remain anonymous forever, the split verdict given by them -- which has resulted in a big disappointment to not only the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, but also the governments of India and the U.S. -- would now only be a subject of speculation by media and analysts.
At the request of the jury, it has been decided that names of the 12-members would forever remain anonymous and would never be made public.
The biggest question is how one can help a terrorist organisation that they believe was involved in the Mumbai attacks, but determine that Rana had no role in the actual attack itself.
The nearest explanation so far has come from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald who soon after the verdict said that according to him Rana’s acquittal in Mumbai case came because “prosecutors failed to prove Rana knew about the Mumbai plot before it happened“.
“I’m not disappointed overall. I’m disappointed in one charge being an acquittal but very gratified overall because the other two charges were very serious,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
On the other hand, Charlie Swift, Rana’s attorney believed that the jury followed the evidence.
“The evidence was clear that Mr Rana did not play a role in the Mumbai accounts,” he said.
The 12-member jury from various ethnic backgrounds, comprising both men and women, who were selected following intense screening and questioning process, held deliberations for more than 12 hours spread over two days inside a closed room on the 19th floor of the federal court room in downtown Chicago.
During this period, no one was allowed to enter the room.
At any point of time if the jury needed any question or any requirement -- for example a marker -- they would knock at the door from inside and the special designated court officer would take that piece of paper hand over to the judge for necessary action.
On the first day, at least once they adopted this procedure when they sought clarification on the ISI and LeT links of Illyas Kashmiri and Pasha.
After the verdict was given, U.S. District Judge Harry D Leinenweber announced the judgement in the court room in presence of the jury, the attorneys and defendant Rana; besides a huge contingent of media.
The judge gave members of the jury the option to speak to the media after the verdict to explain to the world behind the verdict and give an insight into their decision making process.
The court in fact had made special arrangements for the media to cover this expected press conference by the jury and as an exception allowed one television camera, one radio device and one photographer, besides the print journalists for this event.
And immediately after the verdict, press persons rushed from the 19th floor of the building to the 25th floor where the jury was to give the news conference and they queued outside the room to be screened by the security.
“Jury has decided not to address the media” announced one of the court officials communicating to the media the decision of the jury in this regard. This came as a big disappointment to journalists, who were waiting outside the court room for last two days.
As one court official put it: “This is a question, which only the jury can give. Now that they have decided not to meet the press and remain anonymous, it will remain a mystery.”