India to continue to press for Headley extradition

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 07:00 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) India said Friday that it would have sought "much more" punishment for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Headley had he been tried here and that it would continue to press for his extradition.

A day after the Pakistani American was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment by a US court for his role in the 26/11 terror attack, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said: "Had we tried him we would have sought much more."

Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh added that the government would continue to press for the extradition of all those involved in the conspiracy.

Under a plea deal, US prosecutors "had agreed not to seek the death penalty against him and to not extradite him to Pakistan, India or Denmark for the offences to which he pleaded guilty", it was stated in the Chicago court.

Asked whether Headley would ever be tried in India, Khurshid told CNN-IBN: "The question could only be answered by the prosecuting authorities. I cannot speculate."

He further said that India has been "consistently" pushing for the Pakistani American terrorist's extradition and trial in India and that "it's good to know that he's being made accountable and that he has at least got 35 years".

Headley'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 percent of their sentence.

Home Secretary R.K. Singh said that 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 here.

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