Chicago: A US federal court here has started the sentencing hearing of David Coleman Headley, an LeT operative convicted of involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
The hearing started before the court of US District Judge Harry D Leinenweber in downtown Chicago amidst an unprecedented security. According to court officials several hundred people lined up before the court room ahead of proceedings, delaying the start by around 30 minutes.
Sniffer dogs were deployed and every individual was thoroughly checked before they were allowed to enter the court room by security personnel. No electronic device, cellular phone, i-pads and recording
devices were allowed inside the court room – which was opened on a first-cum-first serve basis.
A battery of national and international mediapersons who arrived in Chicago for the hearing in the closely followed case were among those trying to enter the court room. A large number of people had to be denied entry as the courtroom was full to its capacity.
Pakistani American, Headley, 52, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in October 2009 on charges of being involved in the planning and execution of the Mumbai terrorist attack in which more than 160 people were killed including six Americans.
Months later in 2010, Headley pleaded guilty to all the charges of 12 counts and agreed to provide all kind of support to the US government's effort against terrorism in exchange that he would not be given death penalty and would not be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark.
Ahead of the sentencing order, Gary S Shapiro, the Acting United States Attorney, sought 30-35 years of imprisonment for Headley.
Headley's attorney Robert David Seeder and John Thomas, in their pre-sentencing arguments, which have been submitted and has been sealed, are believed to have sought a lighter sentence.