‘What Headley said about Ishrat is hearsay’

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - METRO - Ra­jesh Ahuja & Saub­hadra Chat­terji

NEW DELHI: Al­most five years be­fore David Cole­man Headley’s de­po­si­tion in the 26/11 trial men­tion­ing Ishrat Ja­han, the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) had termed his state­ment to the agency on the same sub­ject as hearsay which is not go­ing to serve the pur­pose of the probe.

Even in the court de­po­si­tion, Headley has not stated any­thing that goes be­yond what he had al­ready told the NIA five years back but a po­lit­i­cal slugfest started over ‘rev­e­la­tions’ of Headley who had been sent by Lashkar-etayyeba to a do a recce of the 26/11 Mum­bai at­tack tar­gets.

On a re­quest re­ceived from the spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion team (SIT), prob­ing the en­counter in which the 19-year-old Mum­bai girl was killed along with her al­leged as­so­ciates in Ahmed­abad in June 2004, the NIA wrote back in May, 2011 say­ing the rel­e­vant por­tion of Headley’s state­ment with ref­er­ence to Ishrat Ja­han is in the na­ture of hearsay.

“(The por­tion of the state­ment) will not be ad­mis­si­ble as ev­i­dence. There­fore shar­ing of this por­tion of state­ment may not serve the pur­pose of in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said the NIA let­ter to the SIT.

In his state­ment to the NIA, Headley had said that in 2005, Lashkar’s op­er­a­tional com­man­der and later prime ac­cused in the 26/11 Mum­bai at­tacks, Zaki-ur­rehman Lakhvi in­tro­duced him his key as­so­ciate Muza­m­mil Bhat.

Headley told NIA that Zaki talked about the ac­com­plish­ments of Muza­m­mil as a Lashkar com­man­der. Zaki also sar­cas­ti­cally men­tioned that Muza­m­mil was a top com­man­der whose ev­ery big ‘project’ has ended in fail­ure. Zaki added that ‘Ishrat Ja­han mod­ule’ was also one of Muza­m­mil’s ‘botched up’ op­er­a­tions.

Headley stated that apart from this he had no other in­for­ma­tion/ knowl­edge about Ishrat Ja­haan.

“The agency also pro­vided the same de­tail to the Gu­jarat high court which was hear­ing a pe­ti­tion for CBI probe in the case,” said a home min­istry of­fi­cial re­quest­ing an­noymity. The US Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion also re­ported that Zaki had told Headley that Muza­m­mil re­cruited a fe­male sui­cide bomber named ‘Ishrat Ja­haan’. The Headley state­ment men­tion­ing Ishrat, recorded by the FBI sleuths was also shared with the In­dian gov­ern­ment through diplo­matic chan­nels.

In his de­po­si­tion through video con­fer­enc­ing in the 26/11 trial, Headley again re­peated that Muza­m­mil had told him about a botched up op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing a fe­male sui­cide bomber in India.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say the por­tions of all three state­ments - to the NIA, the FBI and dur­ing the 26/11 trial - of Headley - men­tion­ing Ishrat Ja­han are hearsay ev­i­dence. Le­gal ex­perts con­cur with it. “A hearsay ev­i­dence is not ad­mit­ted as ev­i­dence in court as it an as­ser­tion other than one made by a per­son giv­ing oral ev­i­dence,” says KC Mit­tal, for­mer chair­man of Delhi Bar Coun­cil. In case of Headley, he says Muza­m­mil told him about a botched up op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing a fe­male sui­cide bomber. There­fore it is the claim of Muza­m­mil that Headley is re­peat­ing, added Mit­tal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.