India to press for Headley’s extradition

Filed on January 26, 2013

NEW DELHI - India said on Friday that it would continue to press for the extradition of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Headley, sentenced by a US court to 35 years in prison for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attack, and would have sought more punishment had he been tried here.

Ministers, the ruling Congress as well as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the government should keep trying for the extradition of the Pakistani American who played a key role in the 26/11 attack.

A day after the Chicago court ruling, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said: “Had we tried him, we would have sought much more. “We are a little disappointed as we wanted that he should have been brought here and tried as the real loss has been of India. It would have been appropriate if he would have been tried here,” Khurshid told reporters here.

The minister said there was a law of land in the United States. “We know that. But we still hope and will try that such people should be brought here and tried”.

He said there was a little disappointment over the quantum of sentence, “but we know that the judge has said clearly that the sentence has been given as there was a provision in their law that he cannot be extradited.

“I can simply say that the fact that an American court has recognised the role of an accused in perpetrating the crime in India is actually a good beginning.

“At least a beginning has been made. We would continue to make efforts that all such people are brought back to India,” Khurshid added. The Pakistani American’s 35-year sentence would be followed by five years of supervised release. There is no federal parole and defendants must serve at least 85 per cent of their sentence.

Home Secretary R.K. Singh said the plea deal was between Headley and the US government and that India would keep pressing for his extradition.

“Our request for extradition stands and we shall continue pressing for it all those people involved in the conspiracy to kill 165 people in Mumbai, all of them deserve death,” Singh told reporters here.

The ruling Congress—also added its voice to the debate.

“We wanted Headley to be brought back to India. He should have been punished here, the land where he committed his crimes and we are disappointed that America refused to extradite him,” Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters. Said his colleague Digvijay Singh: “The Indian government should keep trying to extradite him.”

The BJP agreed and said the sentence handed over to Headley was a “partial judgment” and he should be brought to India to face trial. “The 35 years imprisonment handed down to Headley is perhaps for the death of six Americans killed on Indian soil. Over 145 people were brutally massacred in Mumbai, what about them?” BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

“The conviction has to take place in India. The US judgment is a partial judgment. It is a judgment based on US laws for US citizens, who were killed in India,” Rudy said.

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