U.S. seeks long prison sentence for David Headley

CHICAGO Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:48am IST

Tourists are silhouetted against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal hotel, which was one of the targets of the November 26, 2008 attacks, in Mumbai November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

Tourists are silhouetted against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal hotel, which was one of the targets of the November 26, 2008 attacks, in Mumbai November 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui/Files

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - David Headley, a Pakistani-American who admitted scouting targets for the deadly Islamic militant attacks on Mumbai in 2008 and later testified against the plotters, should face up to 35 years in prison, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.

A prison term of 30 to 35 years for Headley "strikes a fair and just balance between the despicable nature of his crimes and the significant value of his cooperation," prosecutors told the judge who is scheduled to sentence Headley on Thursday.

The attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 killed more than 160 people, including six Americans.

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

After pleading guilty in March 2010 he has been cooperating with U.S. investigators ever since to avoid the death penalty and in exchange for a pledge that he would not to be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber in Chicago is scheduled to sentence Headley, 52, on Thursday.

"There is little question that life imprisonment would be an appropriate punishment for Headley's incredibly serious crimes but for the significant value provided by his immediate and extensive cooperation," the government said in its memorandum filed on Tuesday.

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

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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