March 19, 2010 PTI
New Delhi: Not viewing as a 'setback' the plea bargain between 26/11 accused David Headley and the US government, India today said it will continue to press for his extradition even though it is difficult as he is accused of commiting crime in the US also.
Mumbai under attackHome minister P Chidambaram said India would file charges against Headley, a 49-year-old Pakistani-American operative of Lashkar-e Taiba, at an "appropriate time" and seek access to him.
He said the US has provided "significant amount of information" with regard to Headley's activities but many questions remained unanswered and India wanted replies to these.
Chidambaram noted that the plea bargain between Headley and the US government would provide an opportunity to India to question him as he has agreed to "fully and truthfully testify to any foreign judicial proceedings held in the US, either through deposition, video conferencing or through Letters Rogatory (a formal communication to request testimony of a witness residing foreign land)."
"It is not a setback," he told reporters when asked to comment on the plea bargain under which the 26/11 accused would escape death penalty and instead could be imprisoned for his life (meaning entire life).
"There is a good chance that he will testify in a US court where Indian authorities will have a chance to ask questions," he said.
He, however, added that the fate of the plea bargain would depend on the court which is not a party to it although the court is "by and large bound" by it.
On the possibility of Headley's extradition to India, the home minister said it would be difficult as he is accused of committing crimes in the US as well.
He said extradition would have been an easy affair if Headley had committed crime only in India and was a fugitive in the US.
However, with regard to the Mumbai attacks, Headley is accused both in India as well as in the US, where he "conspired" in the killing of people, who included six Americans, Chidambaram said.
"So American authorities have jurisdiction to prosecute him as he was apprehended in the US. We will have jurisdiction when we file charges against him," he said.
"Since he was apprehended in the US, we had apprehended problems in extradition. But, we have not given up our plea.
We will continue to maintain our plea for his extradition.But, it will depend on what the court decides on the plea bargain," he said.