NEW DELHI: India's foreign minister said Friday that the US planner of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks should have got a harsher sentence than 35 years in prison and added that New Delhi still wanted his extradition.
David Headley, 52, who admitted to scouting targets for the Mumbai attacks in which 166 people died, cooperated with US authorities to avoid the death penalty during his sentencing in Chicago on Thursday.
"If we would have tried him, we would have sought much more (punishment). But the judge is bound by the structured system of justice delivery in the US," Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told India's CNN-IBN TV network.
"It's a beginning," Khurshid told other reporters in New Delhi.
"This should go a long way in hopefully conveying a very clear message" that such acts are not tolerated, he added.
Last November, India executed 25-year-old Pakistani-born Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving gunman from the Mumbai rampage that lasted three days and traumatised India.
On the thorny issue of Headley's extradition, Khurshid said India has been "consistently" pushing its demand with Washington.
US prosecutors agreed not to extradite Headley in exchange for his cooperation after his 2009 arrest in Chicago as he was about to board a flight to Pakistan.
US authorities told the court that Headley cooperated with authorities and provided valuable details about the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for orchestrating the attacks.
The US embassy in New Delhi welcomed the lengthy imprisonment without parole handed out to Headley.
"This sentence reflects both severe punishment for Headley's role in the heinous 26/11 crimes and a decision by the US Department of Justice not to seek the death penalty," the embassy said in a statement.
"This decision was taken because of Headley's willingness to cooperate with law enforcement authorities – American, Indian and others – to help bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent other terrorist attacks," it added.
In delivering the sentence, US judge Harry Leinenweber made it clear he would have rather imposed the death penalty, but said the 35-year term he gave Headley would keep him "under lock and key for the rest of his natural life".
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@Clear Black Bag: "Indian you don’t have to forget this harsh reality and truth that in USA there is no death sentence " Did you even read what you are commenting about? Typical Pakistani on a tangent! Have some self-respect, sir/madam!
In delivering the sentence, US judge Harry Leinenweber made it clear he would have rather imposed the death penalty, but said the 35-year term he gave Headley would keep him “under lock and key for the rest of his natural life”. Worth repeating - judge gave the prosecution some room to negotiate while making sure this terrorist spends the rest of his life in jail - win/win.
To all pakistani brothers who think that the rioters of gujarat are going scot free, please get your facts right. An ex-minister of gujarat gov. got 28 years of rigorous imprisonment in the notorious naroda patiya rioting case. There are many more examples of convictions in the gujarat riot cases that proves the efficiency of political class, judiciary and the society as a whole.
@Lala Gee: What about the millions of Hindus who have disappeared since partition and the few that are left are hounded day in day ot either to change their religion or get killed?
@Clear Black Bag You are clearly in black bag. US has death penalty but it depends on which state the judgement is pronounced.
Indian you don't have to forget this harsh reality and truth that in USA there is no death sentence and you have to be grateful and thankful to USA that USA didn't announce 85 years' imprisonment like Dr. Aafia Siddiqui for him and only announced 35 years' imprisonment.....
@Lala Gee: FYKI, David Headley committed crimes on Indian soil and hence India has the right to comment on the case. Gujarat riots are India's internal matter and India deals with it the way it chooses to. Hope this helps.
@Lala Gee: What did you do about the sectarian killings that happend through out last year in Pakistan that killed more people than in 10 years in India?
Get a life..Look at yourself first..
@Lala Gee , How typical!
@Lala Gee : Why stop at Gujarat. Why don't you take this argument back when 1 million of your new countrymen were massacred in the partition or then millions that Hindu's may have killed since the Islamic forces started visiting our sub continent 'UN-invited' more than 1000 years back.
The only fault the non-Muslims have is that they do not embrace Islam and that they love their own way of life and life itself too much ... what don't they just disappear from the face of this earth and leave everything for the pure few of the purest country? Is that asking too much from them?
I think it was zerro yr
"India says 35 years jail not enough for David Headley"
What sentences did you handed, if at all, to the Hindu killers of over 2,000 innocent Muslims of Gujarat massacre. Lets not talk about Bombay and Ayodhya massacres.