'Because of Headley, my daughter died screaming'

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 15:15 hrs

Kia Scherr, an American woman whose daughter and husband were among the dead in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, on Friday said the 35-year jail sentence to David Coleman Headley is not enough and it is like showing no respect for those killed in India.

Speaking to NDTV after the judgement of Thursday, Kia Scherr said in Mumbai that the trial should have happened in India.

"I don't understand why they did not have more values for the lives lost. He did not pull trigger but played a major role," said Kia Scherr.

"Because of him my daughter spent last few seconds of her life under a table screaming," she said.

"I am not in favour of death penalty in general but he [Headley] demonstrated no value for life. He should never ever get out of prison," said Scherr.

"I really hope that it is 35 years and no parole is granted," she said, adding that "it would have been very appropriate to try him in India."

Rahul Bhatt, son of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt whose name was used by David Coleman Headley as a code in the Mumbai attack owing to their association from a gym, also said the 26/11 plotter should have been extradited to India and face the trial here in Mumbai to be hanged or left to rot in an Indian jail.

"That would have been justice," he said showing his discontentment with punishment of the man who was one of those responsible for the Mumbai attack that killed over 160 people in November 2008.

Either he would be given death sentence in Mumbai or rot in Indian jail, said Rahul Bhatt, who knew Headley in Mumbai as a fitness trainer.

Bhatt, who also wrote a book later on his association with Headley, said 35 years in a jail in USA would be luxury for the terrorist.

Rahul Bhatt was under scanner for a while after it was known that Headley had befriended him

Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley, who admitted to helping plot the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed more than 160 people, was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a U.S. court in Chicago on Thursday.

The sentence, delivered by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, was the maximum sought by federal prosecutors, who had not called for a death penalty as Headley had agreed to testify against his fellow Islamic militants.

Six Americans were also killed on the coordinated attacks in Mumbai now infamously referred to as 26/11 since it had began on the night of Nov 26 in 2008.

Headley had admitted to meticulous scouting missions that facilitated the assault by the 10 terrorists from the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

US federal prosecutors had sought a 30-35 jail term for the 52-year-old Headley, keeping in view his cooperation with the investigation.

The judge however made his distrust with Headley's statements clear as he said, "Mr Headley is a terrorist...I don't have any faith in Mr Headley when he says he's a changed person and believes in the American way of life."

Judge Leinenweber said in his sentencing order Headley had showed no remorse for those killed in the attack. When asked, he said they were Indians and they deserved it.

The once small-time US drug dealer-turned-terrorist plotter had also testified against Tahawwur Rana, a Chicago businessman convicted of providing aid to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Gary Shapiro, the acting US Attorney in Chicago said on Tuesday that the 30-35 year sentence recommended by the prosecution for Headley was fair.

"While his criminal conduct was deplorable, the uniquely significant cooperation which he provided to the government's efforts to combat terrorism supports the government's recommendations," reports quoted him as saying in a memo to the federal court on Tuesday.

Besides the LeT, Headley was also found guilty of having colluded with terrorist outfits such as Al-Qaeda.

Headly, who had also pleaded guilty to conspiring to attack the office of a Denmark newspaper, was arrested in Chicago in November 2009.

The 52-year-old terrorist was spared a death sentence and also promised not to be extradited to India where he was likely to have faced a harsher trial.

The Pakistani terrorists who came by sea route had massacred people wantonly in Mumbai attacking luxury hotels, railways stations, hospitals and a Jewish centre till nine of the ten gunmen were killed by the Indian commandoes and cops after battling for more than two days of the siege by the gunmen.

The lone surviving gunman in the attack , Ajmal Kasab, was hanged by India last year.

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