Headley cross-examination to take place later

Mumbai: The nearly 30-hour-long examination of Pakistani-American terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley -- for five out of six days this week -- before Special TADA Court Judge G.A. Sanap ended here on Saturday afternoon.

Cross-examination was started but could not be completed and will be conducted sometime later this month after consultation with the US authorities, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told media persons.

An acknowledged criminal lawyer specialising in terror cases, Nikam shot off over 750 questions and supplementaries to Headley, 56, who deposed via video-conferencing from a US jail in an undisclosed location since the morning of February 8.

Headley, who was given conditional pardon by the Mumbai Special TADA Court on December 10 last year after he agreed to turn approver in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case, is undergoing a 35-year-old jail term in the US.

On the final day Saturday, Headley listened to three video tapes recorded during the attacks on November 26-28, 2008 and identified different voices of handlers who were guiding and directing the 10 Pakistani terrorists from a control room in Karachi.

"This testimony is very important for us. He (Headley) has clearly named and identified the three people present in the control room that night who were directing and guiding the terrorists here," Nikam said later.

Lawyer Wahab Khan of another Indian co-accused Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal started Headley's cross-examination, but could pose only five questions due to paucity of time.

Besides, Khan argued that he was not handed over the statement which Headley referred to during his deposition and also needed to study the confession of the captured and hanged terrorist Ajmal Kasab.

Following a heated exchange between Khan and Nikam, counsel Mahesh Jethmalani intervened and told Special Judge Sanap that even if the timings were extended by two hours on Saturday, it would not be possible to complete the cross-examination.

Special Judge Sanap then enquired of US attorney Sarah whether cross-examination could be resumed on Monday, but she replied in the negative.

Later, Khan said he would communicate to the Special Court the time required for the cross-examination by February 22.

It was decided that the US Department of Justice would be informed and fresh dates for the cross-examination would be fixed accordingly.

In the cross-examination by Khan, Headley said his family had shifted to Pakistan after Partition in 1947.

"My father is from Pakistan and mother is from the US. He lived in Punjab on the Indian side and worked in Lahore, but after Partition, moved to Pakistan," Headley told the Special Court.