Mumbai, Nov 20: Three years after the Mumbai terror attacks, city police are still awaiting access to 26/11 conspirator David Headley and his alleged accomplice Tahawwur Rana, as there is no response from a US court yet to the letters rogatory (LR) that enables cops to question the duo.
In October, a metropolitan magistrate's court here had issued LR to a US court requesting the latter to enable Mumbai police to question Headley and Rana in the 26/11 terror attack case, over a year after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was granted access to the two.
LR is a formal request by a court in one country to another in a foreign land, seeking judicial assistance.
“We had sent the LR to the Chicago court (that tried Headley). But, as of now, there is no response from there,” Joint police commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy told PTI.
“We want to question Headley and Rana, which will help us to establish their local links in Mumbai,” he said.
A four-member team of NIA officials, led by Loknath Bahera, had questioned Headley face-to-face, for a week in June last year to elicit information about his role in the Mumbai attacks, the wider conspiracy and all those involved in the carnage.
However, to protect the confidentiality of the investigations being carried by both India and the United States, the two countries did not to disclose the contents of the interviews.
Headley had, on March 18 last year, pleaded guilty to conspiring in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in November 2008, as well as later planning to attack a Danish newspaper, but struck a plea-bargain deal with the US authorities that saved him from death penalty and extradition to India.
In the Chicago court, Headley has pleaded guilty to 12 terrorism charges, including his involvement in the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
However, Rana, a Canadian national of Pakistani origin, was acquitted by the court of conspiracy to provide material support to the terror attacks in Mumbai.
He was convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorism plot in Denmark and one count of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
A team of NIA is likely to visit the United States soon to question Rana about the help he reportedly extended to Headley, an LeT operative, to disguise as immigrant consultant during his visits to India.
On November 26, 2008, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman of 26/11 attacks, and nine others had landed here by sea and gone on a shooting spree at various places including the Taj Mahal Hotel, Nariman House, Oberoi Hotel and CST railway station, killing 166 people.
Headley had conducted recce of all these places during his visits to India since 2006.