Headley bar­gains for par­don, made ap­prover in case

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Ari­tra Hazra ari­tra.hazra@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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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