Chidambaram asks agencies to be prepared to question Headley

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New Delhi, Mar 20 (ANI): Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and all concerned agencies to quickly prepare necessary documents to question Lashkar operative David Coleman Headley aka Daood Gilani.

In a statement issued here, Chidambaram said: "I have today directed NIA and the other Agencies concerned in the case to quickly prepare the documents necessary to start a judicial proceeding in which Indian Authorities could require David Coleman Headley to answer questions or to testify."

On Thursday, Headley pleaded guilty before a Chicago court, admitting he had scouted for targets ahead of a brazen terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26 November 2008.

Under the plea bargain, Headley has escaped the death penalty. He also cannot be extradited from the US to India, Pakistan or Denmark.

The NIA had registered a report against Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana on November 11, 2009.

Chidambaram expressed confidence that India would be able to obtain access to Headley.

"It is my understanding that India would be able to obtain access to David Coleman Headley to question him in a properly constituted judicial proceeding," Chidambaram said.

"Such judicial proceeding could be either pre-trial or during an inquiry or trial. It is also my understanding that David Coleman Headley is obliged to cooperate fully and truthfully in such proceedings," he added.

Chidambaram's expression came after a telephonic conversation with US Government's Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday evening.

Chidambaram said that during the conversation, Holder drew his attention to a portion under the chapter "cooperation," in which Headley agreed to truthfully participate in any foreign judicial proceedings held in US soil.

"Defendant agrees that, when directed by the United States Attorney's Office, he will fully and truthfully participate in any debriefings for the purpose of gathering intelligence or national security information," cooperation chapter stated.

"Defendant further agrees that, when directed by the United States Attorney's Office, he will fully and truthfully testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the United States by way of deposition, video conferencing or letters rogatory," statement added.

The chapter further states that "Defendant agrees to the postponement of his sentencing until after the conclusion of his cooperation."

Chidambaram said Rana's plea agreement is of enormous significance and is most damning indictment of the role played by certain persons in Pakistan.

In his plea agreement, Headley has admitted to conspiring with LeT members A, B, C and D and receiving instructions from them.

He has also admitted to attending training camps organised by the LeT on five separate occasions and meeting in Pakistan with various co-conspirators including but not limited to LeT members.

Headley, in his guilty plea also admitted to being privy to the attacks planned in Mumbai and the despatch of a team of attackers by sea.

"The plea agreement should spur Pakistan to take action against all the conspirators and bring them to justice. Nothing short of that will be acceptable to India or will satisfy world opinion," Chidambaram said.

Pakistan was in a state of denial for many months after the attacks of 26/11.

Thereafter, grudgingly and bowing to the pressure applied by India through the dossiers and otherwise, Pakistan initiated proceedings against a few of the persons involved in the conspiracy, even while key conspirators are still at large. (ANI)

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