India is likely to set up a team of investigators, including detectives of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), to question Pakistani-American terror suspect David Coleman Headley, who has pleaded guilty in a Chicago court for his role in planning the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
Sources in the Home Ministry said on Monday that the team would also have legal experts and government officials.
The composition of the team and the mode of access would be decided after Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram returned from his current official visit to the U.K., the sources said.
“The team may visit the U.S. next month. We are also preparing a set of questions to interrogate David Headley and will also start a judicial process soon,” the sources said.
The U.S. Department of Justice had asked Indian officials to be ready with a team to avail access to David Headley resulting from the plea bargain agreement between him and U.S. prosecutors, the sources said adding the Home Ministry was in the process of constituting a team with the help of the Union Law Ministry under the terms of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the U.S.
Mr. Chidambaram had asked the NIA to initiate the process and file charges against Headley (49), who, after pleading guilty to all 12 counts, may get a lesser sentence and also escape death sentence and extradition to India or Denmark, where he allegedly did the groundwork for launching terror attacks.
The NIA registered a case against Headley in November last, but has not formally charged him in a court or started a judicial process against him.
During a long telephonic conversation over the weekend, Attorney-General and head of the U.S. Justice Department Eric Holder assured Mr. Chidambaram that India will have access to Headley to question him.
Under the plea bargain, India can have access to him by deposition, video conferencing or through Letters Rogatory. The sources said India would most likely explore all the three options.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the party had always maintained that Headley would get “most severe” punishment and that India would have access to him.