US gives India Headley access

Officials to visit Washington soon

US gives India Headley access

Decks have been cleared for an Indian team, which will include sleuths of the National Investigation Agency (NIA),  to visit the US, following Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium’s extensive discussions with American officials on providing Indian officials access to Headley.

Subramanium returned here on Saturday after “all bottlenecks” were cleared with the American authorities on direct access to Headley who visited several Indian cities, including Mumbai, before  the 26/11 and Pune terror strikes.

Subramanium had earlier advised the government to settle for nothing less than Headley’s extradition to ensure his thorough custodial interrogation. The team will visit the US as soon as it is formed.

Questions

The Union Home Ministry is  preparing a set of questions to interrogate Headley and will also start the judicial process soon, officials said without giving the schedule of the team’s visit.

Subramanium said “access should be possible” once a team of investigators is ready to interrogate Headley who has confessed to his role in the 2008 Mumbai attack. The top Indian law officer was appreciative of the “unstinted cooperation” of the US.

“There has been unstinted cooperation and we have had a very fruitful round of discussions between the American as well as the Indian authorities,” Subramanium said after discussing with officials in the US Justice Department, including his counterpart Eric Holder, on the modalities for interrogating Headley.

Subramanium’s US visit was to understand the American legal system before India is given access to Headley, a Pakistani-American who had conspired with Pakistan-based LeT terrorist commanders to target Indian cities. Subramanium also discussed with US Justice Department officials the modalities for access to Headley in an appropriate legal format.

Along with Meera Shankar, the Indian ambassador to the United States, Subramanium met Holder and held discussions on getting direct access to Headley in Washington on April 27.

India wants to question Headley in a manner that his statement would be acceptable in a court of law here. A charge sheet may also be required to be filed against Headley in India. The NIA has registered a case against Headley but has not formally charged him in a court or started a judicial process against him.

Headley admitted before his American interrogators that he had several times conducted recce in India for the Mumbai attacks, and was also planning more strikes at vital places in India.

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