The conditional plea bargain granted to Mumbai terror suspect David Headley by a US court has brightened India’s chances of interrogating him.
That is why the government has begun the process of building a team of experts to question Headley. The team will be finalised once home minister P Chidambaram returns from his foreign trip.
A group of legal experts and officials from the National Investigating Agency would visit the US sometime in April to speak to Headley, a home ministry source said.
Stating that the plea bargain agreement has overtaken certain earlier developments, the source said India is now entitled to question Headley even before filing a charge sheet against him. “We can question him with or without filing the charge sheet and we may use both options to question him again if needed,” he said.
The US agreed to allow Indian investigators question Headley after US attorney general Eric Holder’s telephone conversation with Chidamabram on Saturday. The ministry source said that barring extradition, India can opt for videoconferencing, deposition and issuing letter rogatory to quiz Headley.
“We may use all options if need be. A visit to US to question Headley could be followed by videoconferencing to clear any doubts. In the third phase he could be sent a letter rogatory with more questions,” the source said.
The ministry is also being optimistic about extraditing Headley. The source said that the process could be started on the basis of new charges, other than the 12 counts on which he had pleaded guilty. At the same time, the source said extraditing Headley would be near impossible as there is no history of any US national being extradited.