Friday, January 25, 2013

‘Govt. slightly disappointed over quantum of sentence given to Headley’

NEW DELHI, January 25, 2013 PTI

India on Friday said it will continue to press for extradition of David Headley from the US after the Pakistani-American LeT terrorist escaped death penalty for helping plot the 2008 Mumbai terror attack and sentenced to 35 years in jail by an American Court.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the government was "slightly disappointed" over the quantum of sentence, saying the 52-year-old convict should have got a "severest sentence". Asserting the India's demand that Headley should be tried in India, Mr. Khurshid said he would have possibly got a "serious and severe" sentence in this country.

Mr. Khurshid, however, said the sentence handed over to Headly was a \'beginning\'. "The-35-year sentencing and what the judge said is a beginning. We understand there are legal procedures in the US but nevertheless the position we have, the request(extradition) that we have made remains intact," Mr. Khurshid told reporters.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh also said that India will push for Headley's extradition.

Congress disappointed

Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi expressed disappointment at the verdict and demanded that he should be tried in India.

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy demanded that Headley should be extradited to India and be tried under Indian laws and given capital punishment.

"I think going by what the judge has said this should go a long way in hopefully conveying a very clear message that the kind of things that have been going on in the past will not be tolerated," Mr. Khurshid said.

US District Judge Harry Leinenweber said yesterday, "The sentence I impose, I'm hopeful it will keep Mr Headley under lock and key for the rest of his natural life."

The Judge said it would have been much easier to impose the death penalty. "That's what you deserve".

Headley had entered into a plea bargain with the US investigators under which he escaped death sentence.

"Mr. Headley is a terrorist," the Judge said while imposing the sentence on 12 counts in a packed court.

Justice Leinenweber also said, "He commits crime, cooperates and then gets rewarded for the cooperation.

"No matter what I do, it is not going to deter terrorists. Unfortunately, terrorists do not care for it. I do not have any faith in Mr Headley when he says that he is a changed person now.

"I do believe that it is my duty to protect the public from Mr Headley and ensure that he does not get into any further terrorist activities. Recommending 35 years is not a right sentence".

'Headley could still be extradited'

David Headley could still be extradited to India in a rare case if he violates his plea deal under which he escaped the noose, an American attorney has hinted.

For this slim possibility of his extradition, Headley would have to violate his plea agreement by not cooperating with the US government or any foreign government in future investigations and not being truthful, Acting US Attorney Gary S Shapiro told reporters in Chicago.
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