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Hand over Headley for a year, India tells US

Last updated on: June 02, 2013 15:40 IST

The National Investigation Agency has requested United States authorities to hand over Pakistani American terrorist David Headley to Indian investigators for a year to unearth more information about the conspiracy behind the 26/11 terror strike.

After questioning Headley and his associate Tawwahur Rana, the NIA will file an additional charge-sheet and request the court to commence the trial, said an agency official.

The trial will be held against the prime accused in the 26/11 terror attack inclduing Headley, Rana, Abu Jundal, Major Iqbal, Major Sameer Ali, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, among others.

In case American authorities refuse to hand over Headley, Indian prosecutors will not get a chance to cross-examine him.

According to sources, US may consider India's plea and hand Headley over for the trial period.

The NIA is confident that Rana would be extradited as, unlike Headley, he had not entered into a plea bargain with American authorities.

India has urged the American interlocutors to ‘temporarily’ hand over the Pakistani American for a year after the US expressed its inability to extradite him.

The request was made during the Indo-US Homeland Security Dialogue held in Washington between May 20 and May 22.

"The US interlocutors assured us they will actively consider the request," said a top Indian official, who participated in the meeting.

Washington also assured New Delhi that it will positively consider the request to extradite Headley's Pakistani-Canadian friend Rana, who helped Headley conduct a reconnaissance the 26/11 targets for Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

Following India's consistent persuasion, the US has indicated to interlocutors that India could be given access to Headley for the second time to get more information about the conspiracy hatched to carry out the 2008 attack.

So far, the US has not given Indian authorities any opportunity to question Rana, who was sentenced by an American court for his involvement in a terror plot in Denmark.

Indian investigators believe that if they could quiz Rana, much more information could come into light as he was a close associate of Headley.

The investigators believe that Headley and Rana have a lot of information and their revelations could throw more light on the conspiracy to carry out the worst terror strike in India.

Headley, 51 had pleaded guilty to 12 terrorism charges, including his involvement in the November 2008 attacks that claimed 166 lives. He had, however, entered into a plea bargain with US authorities.

A court in the US had sentenced Rana to 14 years in jail followed by five years of supervised release.

Rana was convicted for providing material support to LeT and for backing a plot to attack a Danish newspaper. He was acquitted by the court on charges related to the Mumbai terror attack despite being a close associate of Headley.

With additional inputs from PTI

Vicky Nanjappa