Headley gets 35 years for picking Mumbai targets



Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist David Headley was Thursday sentenced to 35 years in jail by a US court for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 165 people were killed, with the judge expressing his unhappiness over the prosecution seeking a lighter term.

Headley, 52, had entered into a plea bargain with US investigators and escaped the death sentence. But many were surprised when the US prosecutors did not seek the life sentence for Headley.

Headley was ordered to serve 35 years, followed by five years of supervised release by US District Judge Harry Leinenweber. There is no federal parole and defendants must serve at least 85 per cent of their sentence.

"Mr. Headley is a terrorist," the judge said while imposing the sentence in a packed court. "He commits crime, cooperates and then gets rewarded for the cooperation. No matter what I do, it is not going to deter terrorists. Unfortunately, terrorists do not care for it. I do not have any faith in Mr Headley when he says that he is a changed person now," the judge said.

"I do believe that it is my duty to protect the public from Mr Headley and ensure that he does not get into any further terrorist activities. Recommending 35 years is not a right sentence. I will accept the government motion... and sentence of 35 years," he said.

"The sentence I impose, I'm hopeful it will keep Mr Headley under lock and key for the rest of his natural life," Leinenweber said. The judge said it would have been much easier to impose the death penalty. "That's what you deserve."

Asked if he wanted to make a statement, Headley said, "No your honour". Headley was sentenced on 12 counts including conspiracy to aid Lashkar-e-Toiba, which mounted the attacks on landmarks in the heart of the Indian financial capital.

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