Indian-American attorney to prosecute Boston bomber

Washington, April 23 (IANS) Two veteran anti-terrorism prosecutors, including an Indian American attorney Aloke Chakravarty, are leading the case against the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Assistant US district attorneys Chakravarty and William Weinreb from the Massachusetts district's Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit were both key players in the prosecution of Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad.

Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison for the attempted bombing of New York's Times Square three years ago.

The Shahzad team was given the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award in 2011 for their "quick response and coordination" during the Times Square investigation, according to CBS News.

Chakravarty, 39, was also the lead prosecutor on the case against Tarek Mehanna, a Boston pharmacist, who was convicted of providing material support to Al Qaeda, and conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country. Last year Mehanna was sentenced to 17 years in prison, CBS said.

A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and Emory Law School, Chakravarty, has been a prosecutor in different contexts over the last 15 years.

He has been an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, in the criminal division of the Massachusetts attorney general's office, for the US Department of Justice, and for the United Nations at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

He has also served in Washington DC as assistant general counsel at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and as attorney-advisor at the Justice department's office of intelligence policy.

In an interview to the India-US Business Journal in 2009, Chakravarty credited a "rich and diverse" undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore with helping introduce him to a possible career in law.

"I was going to be a good Indian son and go to medical school," he was quoted as saying. "But it didn't quite work out that way."

He said he decided to attend law school "to see if I liked it," a decision he came to acclaim. "I loved it," Chakravarty said. "I realised that this was a field in which you can speak up for those that can't speak for themselves."

"The idea of standing up for the little guy really appealed to me," he told the Journal. "But it was a bit of a gamble. I was throwing myself into potential chaos."

Chakravarty said he applied to work as a federal prosecutor in late 2001 motivated by the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,

A key element of his work is outreach to immigration communities, particularly those groups that have became targets for discrimination in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, including Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs, he told the Journal.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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