US has first right to try Headley, says former diplomat


Pana: Former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh Monday said here that the US had the first right over US-based terror suspect David Coleman Headley, one of the main accused in the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai.

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Mansingh also said the media was very “impatient” over the issue by repeatedly questioning the delay in Headley being handed over to India by the US authorities.

Speaking at a press conference as part of an outreach programme organised by the minister of external affairs (MEA), Mansingh, said that Headley was arrested “in America for crimes committed against America”, which effectively meant that American courts had precedence over India.

“We will have to wait until their court makes a decision,” said Mansingh, who is also a former ambassador to the US.

“Headley and his accomplice Rana (Tahawwur) have been arrested on American soil and, therefore, American court takes the decision and we have to recognise that. The presiding judge there will decide how India can access Headley. Procedures have to be followed. Whether through a letter rogatory process, a vide conference or a testimony,” he added.

Mansingh added that in an ideal scenario India would like to extradite Headley for interrogation. “He is right now under control of American courts and you know courts have their own procedures. So, whether our wish will be fulfilled or not, I am not sure,” he said.

Saying that Headley was important for “bringing the perpetrators of 26/11 to justice”, the former foreign secretary said the terror suspect’s role in the Mumbai terror strike was crucial.