26/11 Mumbai attacks: Headley to turn approver, pardoned

Mumbai, Dec 10 (IANS) A court here accepted on Thursday the request of Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Coleman Headley, currently imprisoned in the US, to turn approver and depose in the 26/11 case in return for a pardon.

Headley, who appeared before a court through a video-conferencing from an unidentified location in the US, during the hearing expressed his willingness to turn approver and depose in the case in return for a pardon to Sessions Judge G.A. Sanap.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who conducted the 26/11 trial earlier, sought time to consult the investigating officers for which the court was adjourned for half an hour. After discussions, he informed Judge Sanap that the prosecution was agreeable to Headley’s offer, subject to certain conditions.

Accordingly, Judge Sanap pardoned Headley and made him an approver late on Thursday.

Headley alias Daood Sayeed Gilani will depose as a prosecution witness before the court on February 8, 2016.

Judge Sanap also asked him to disclose all information pertaining to the 26/11 case which he had earlier shared with the US courts.

This is expected to shed light on the 26/11 conspiracy and the role of various terror groups, and other crucial details of the terror strike.

Headley confirmed that he had received the charge sheet filed against him in the Mumbai court, charging him with the same conduct for which he was also charged in the US.

“I had pleaded guilty to the charges in the US and I admitted I was a participant in these charges,” he told the Mumbai court.

He added he had accepted the responsibility for his role in the offences in the US and also to make himself as witness in the Mumbai court.

“I am here ready to answer questions – if I receive a pardon from this court,” pleaded Headley who is currently serving a 35-year sentence in a US jail for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes which left 166 dead and hundreds injured.

His deposition before the Mumbai court follows an order by Judge Sanap on November 18 asking Headley to be presented via video-conference on December 10.

Police had sought the court’s permission to write to the US Deparment of Justice as Headley had been convicted in the US, but never faced the Indian courts.

On several trips to India, Headley had carried out recces of some of locations, including Hotel Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel Trident, targeted by the Pakistani terrorists who sneaked into Mumbai from sea.

In 2009, he again travelled to India and recced more locations in other cities, including New Delhi. On one trip, he became close friends with Rahul Bhatt, son of eminent film maker Mahesh Bhatt.

Headley, now 54, has also been suspected or charged with involvement in several terrorist cases around the world and had made video-recordings of some of the sites targeted in the 26/11 attack.

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