Mumbai; Dec.11: Lashkar-e-Toiba secret agent David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American who is one of the main conspirators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, was on Thursday night granted pardon after he pleaded to be made an approver.
Headley appeared before the sessions court here through a video link from an undisclosed location in the US. Ujjwal Nikam, the special public prosecutor, told the judge G A Sanap that Headley was ready to turn "approver" if given pardon.
As Nikam sought some time to consult the investigating officers, the court adjourned the proceedings for half an hour on Thursday evening.
"I have received the charging document filed against me in this court. It charges me with same conduct for which I was charged in the US. I had pleaded guilty to the charges in the US and I admitted that I was participant in these chargesm," Headley told the court.
"I accepted responsibility for my role in those offences in my plea agreement (in US). I also agreed to make myself available as a witness in this court. I appear here ready to answer questions regarding these events if I receive a pardon from this court," he said
The court had told Headley that he "disclose full and true facts leading to the happening of the attacks within his knowledge and the persons concerned, disclose his role and the role of others, disclose facts which he has admitted before the U.S. court in Illinois and truthfully and correctly answer the prosecution's questions unfolding the entire criminal conspiracy and other offences."
When asked, he denied being under pressure and said: "I am obliged to testify because of the conditions of my plea agreement."
The court decided to grant him pardon as it felt his evidence as co-conspirator was "of immense importance and assistance to the prosecution." His role was "categorically established" from the U.S. court's judgment, records and plea agreement. Headley's deposition would be the first piece of direct evidence of the criminal conspiracy.
On January 24, 2013, Headley was sentenced by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago to 35 years in prison for his part in the Mumbai attacks.
The judge has posted the matter for further hearing on February 8, 2016, when Headley would be required to answer questions put to him by public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.