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India refuses US request to waive Khobragade`s diplomatic immunity

Last Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014 - 05:30

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Soon after Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was indicted by the United States prosecutor on visa fraud charge, India on Friday refused to waive her diplomatic immunity.

According to news reports, the US had granted diplomatic immunity to Devyani for her transfer to the UN and then had asked India to waive it so that she could be prosecuted.

Reacting to which India refused to waive her diplomatic immunity due to which the US has asked her to leave the country.
Meanwhile, US Attorney Preet Bharara has confirmed that Devyani has not left the US yet.

Earlier, the US prosecutors had said that an Indian diplomat, whose arrest in New York sparked a bitter row, left the United States today as she was hit with charges over treatment of her servant.

In a statement to a court, federal prosecutors unveiled that a grand jury had filed two counts of visa fraud and making false statements against diplomat Devyani Khobragade but said that she would not be present for trial.

"We understand that the defendant was very recently accorded diplomatic immunity status, and that she departed the United States today," Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the southern district of New York, told the judge.

"The Government respectfully writes to advise the Court
that earlier today, the grand jury voted on and returned the enclosed Indictment charging Devyani Khobragade, the defendant, in two counts with visa fraud and making false statements in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1546, 1001, and 2," Bharara said.

"In this case, the defendant is unavailable because her `whereabouts are known but [her] presence for trial cannot be obtained by due diligence or [she] resists appearing at or being returned for trial`," he said.

Bharara made it clear that Khobragade will be prosecuted if she returns to the US without diplomatic immunity.

"We will alert the Court promptly if we learn that the defendant returns to the United States in a non-immune capacity, at which time the Government will proceed to prosecute this case and prove the charges in the Indictment," he added.

After the row broke out, Khobragade was transferred to India`s Permanent Mission to the UN. Following her arrest, her passport was kept in court`s custody.
A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested last month in New York on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard. She was released on a USD 250,000 bond.

The December 12 handcuffing and strip-search of Khobragade, India`s deputy consul general in New York, caused widespread outrage in India.

However, she has denied the charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nanny.

India had demanded the US take back all charges against Khobragade and offer an unconditional apology.

First Published: Friday, January 10, 2014 - 05:15
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