Chicago: A US court on Wednesday allowed the media
outlets access to parts of the video tapes, which were played
during the trial of LeT operative David Headley's childhood
friend and 26/11 attacks co-accused Tahawwur Rana.
US District court Judge Harry D Leinenweber ruled that
only portions of the tape that were played in court will be
allowed to be accessed by the media.
"We are to turn over what was played in court and we are
to comply with the court's order," US Attorney Dan Collins
told PTI after the hearing today.
American media outlets had filed the motion demanding
access to behind-the-scene video tapes of FBI interrogation of
Mumbai attacks plotter Pakistani-American Headley.
The motion was filed on October 6 after prosecutors
refused to turn over to various media outlets the video tapes,
which were played during the trial of Pakistani-Canadian Rana
in June. Headley was the star witness in the trial.
While Rana's attorney Patrick Blegen did not specifically
remember what parts of the tapes were played in court, Collins
did, and so Judge Leinenweber ruled that what Collins
remembers would be granted access.
The tapes were allowed to play in court in June by Blegen
to show that Headley had duped his friend Rana.
But Blegen neglected to enter the tapes as evidence, a
technicality now claimed by prosecutors as the reason they do
not have to make it public.
Headley was accused in scouting targets and conducting a
recce in Mumbai before 26/11 attacks that led to the death of
166 people including six Americans.
Headley testified to US authorities on conditions that he
be not extradited to India and not be given the death penalty.
Rana's lawyers did not object to access of interrogation
tapes by US media outlets.
The motion - filed by ProPublica, a public interest
reporting organisation, and the PBS show Frontline demanded
access to the tapes. PBS Frontline wants to use the tapes in
an hour-long documentary on their show 'Frontline' they want
to air next month.
In the tapes, Headley is shown confessing that he took
training in LeT camps and under ISI and Pakistani militants
linked to al Qaeda and accepted his role in scouting targets
and conducting a recce of Mumbai before the 2008 attacks.
According to court documents, Rana's defense counsel
Blegen had informed intervenors that defendant Rana does not
object to the release of the Headley footage.
However, the US Attorney's office opposed it, citing its
objections at trial to using the video clips during Headley's
cross-examination, and claiming that the clips were not trial
exhibits and were not admitted into evidence.
Blegen believed that the videos should have been entered
as trial exhibits, but at a minimum were used and recognized
as demonstrative exhibits at trial.
First Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 22:19