Headley bargains for pardon, made approver in case
MUMBAI: A Mumbai court on Thursday pardoned David Coleman Headley, the Lashkar-eTaiba (LeT) operative who helped plan the 2008 attacks in the city, and accepted him as a prosecution witness, a move likely to help nail another key accused in the case, Abu Jundal. The pardon came on the condition that the 55- year- old US citizen divulge the details of the conspiracy, with chief prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam saying Headley could help establish direct evidence of the attack being planned from outside India.
Headley is serving a 35-year term at an undisclosed US prison for the attacks that killed 166 people. The court’s granting of pardon to Headley comes at a time when New Delhi and Islamabad are trying to claw back to the peace table, and unless his revelations about the involvement of Pakistan’s ISI in the attacks go beyond what is already known, they are unlikely to hurt the dialogue process.
As part of his plea bargain with US courts, Headley cannot be extradited to India to face trial but his testimony can help prosecute Jundal, a key planner of the attacks who is now in jail in Mumbai after being extradited from Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Headley, who deposed via video conferencing, said he had already agreed in US courts to make himself available as a witness in foreign judicial proceedings. “I appeared here ready to answer questions regarding these events if I receive a pardon from the court,” he said.
To this, Nikam requested for 30 minutes to decide on the stand of the prosecution after which he gave four reasons for agreeing to the granting of conditional pardon.
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