India to press U.S. for Headley’s extradition

A copy of David Coleman Headley’s passport.  

Earlier this month, David Coleman Headley, one of the main conspirators in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, offered to turn approver in the case being investigated by the Mumbai Police. But the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the larger conspiracy, will send a reminder to the U.S. authorities of its requests made in the past few years for his extradition.

India is likely to tell the U.S. that the American investigation against Headley and the Lashkar-e-Taiba was done because of the six Americans killed in the Mumbai attacks, but justice is yet to be done to the families of the large number of Indian victims.

An NIA official told The Hindu that Headley would remain the accused no. 1 in the case. The NIA’s charge sheet filed in 2011 says Headley not only conducted reconnaissance and did the planning for the attacks, he was also involved in the “execution of other planned attacks [like those on Chabad Houses and the National Defence College, Delhi] at the behest of the LeT and Harkat-ul-Jihad-Islami (HuJI).” Headley travelled to India again in March 2009 to conduct reconnaissance for the attacks, before being arrested at O’Hare Airport in Chicago in October that year.

The development assumes significance as Headley’s offer is bound to help the Mumbai Police build a stronger case against Pakistan. Headley has been sentenced to 35 years in prison by a U.S. court and the clause of ‘double jeopardy’ debars punishment for the same crime twice.

“Double jeopardy is a big impediment to the NIA getting the custody of Headley through extradition. But the U.S. authorities have to understand that they probed Headley’s role as six American nationals were killed in the attack. Indians also died, and what about justice to them,” asked a senior government official.

Though India and the U.S. have a mutual legal assistance treaty, it can only be used to give evidence and not for prosecution. A senior Maharashtra official said there still existed a possibility of Headley being made an accused during the course of the trial, if his replies were not convincing.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 12:04:18 AM |

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