Charges against Khobragade to stay

Charges against Khobragade to stay

Indian Foreign Service officer Devyani Khobragade has flown out of the US, but the charges framed against her in a court in New York will remain and she will have to face trial if she returns to the US without the immunity cover.

Despite New Delhi demanding that Washington drop the charges against Khobragade, the 39-year-old diplomat was indicted in a court in New York for visa fraud and making false statements to US government officials.

US Attorney for Southern District of New York Preet Bharara wrote to District Judge Shira Scheindlin that the grand jury had indicted the diplomat on two counts of visa fraud and making false statements in connection with the visa application of her domestic help Sangeeta Richard. “There will not need to be an arraignment on the indictment scheduled at this time. We understand that the defendant was very recently accorded diplomatic immunity status,” wrote Bharara.

“Therefore, the charges will remain pending until such time as she can be brought to court to face the charges, either through a waiver of immunity or the defendant’s return to the United States in a non-immune status. The time between now and the time that she is able to be brought before the Court is excluded automatically under the Speedy Trial Act, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 3161(h)(3) (A), which provides for the exclusion of any period of delay resulting from the unavailability of the defendant,” he added.

Hours after she was indicted, Khobragade boarded a flight from John F Kennedy International Airport to travel to New Delhi.

“At the time of her departure for India, Counsellor Khobragade reiterated her innocence on charges filed against her. She affirmed her gratitude to the Government of India, in particular to the external affairs minister, and the people of India, as also the media, for their strong and sustained support during this period,” stated the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a press release issued shortly after her departure from the US.

Khobragade was the Deputy Consul General of India in New York and enjoyed limited immunity when she was arrested.

New Delhi later transferred her to the Permanent Mission of India (PMI) to the United Nations to ensure greater immunity for her.

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