American man jailed over Mumbai attack

Thursday 24 January 2013 23.00
More than 160 people were killed in attack in Mumbai in 2008
More than 160 people were killed in attack in Mumbai in 2008

An American man who admitted scouting targets for the 2008 Islamic militant raid on Mumbai and later agreed to testify against the plotters to avoid the death penalty, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The sentence, handed down by US District Judge Harry Leinenweber, was the maximum sought by federal prosecutors.

The attacks killed more than 160 people, including six Americans.

David Headley, a 52-year-old US citizen of Pakistani descent, admitted videotaping sites that were targeted by the Mumbai attackers.

He was arrested in 2009 and pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including conspiracy to bomb places of public use and commit murder and plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper.

After entering his plea in 2010, Headley cooperated with US investigators and foreign intelligence agencies to avoid the death penalty and extradition to India, Pakistan or Denmark.

He also agreed to testify in foreign judicial proceedings, the US government said.

In a memorandum filed with Judge Leinenweber earlier this week, the government said "there is little question that life imprisonment would be an appropriate punishment for Mr Headley's incredibly serious crimes but for the significant value provided by his immediate and extensive cooperation."

Last week, Judge Leinenweber sentenced Pakistani-born businessman Tahawwur Rana to 14 years in federal prison for providing support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the Mumbai attacks.