Devyani Khobragade did not necessarily commit a grave crime: Top US attorney

Dec 26 2013, 12:59 IST
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India has strongly objected to the arrest of its diplomat Devyani Khobragade, arguing that the allegations of visa fraud against her is not grave enough to arrest her. India has strongly objected to the arrest of its diplomat Devyani Khobragade, arguing that the allegations of visa fraud against her is not grave enough to arrest her.
SummaryThe lawyer says US can withdraw case against Khobragade, although it could face some difficulties before judiciary.

The US can still withdraw the alleged visa fraud case against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, although it could face some difficulties before the judiciary, according to a top American lawyer.

"I think, in this particular case, when the issue is not necessarily mistreatment in a physical sense, but low wages, I think it moves a little bit more towards a serious crime, but not necessarily a grave crime," G Douglas Jones, the ex-Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and currently the Treasurer of the National Association of Former US Attorneys, said.

India has strongly objected to the arrest of 39-year-old Khobragade arguing that the allegations of visa fraud against her is not grave enough to arrest her, and thus the US has violated Vienna Convention for Consular Relations of 1963.

The US, however, claims this to be a grave crime. Jones conceded that the interpretation of the crime under the Vienna Convention is a grey area and it is for the governments concerned to define it.

"Laws like that are often subject to the interpretation of the person who wants to use the law either for or against the particular point. I can certainly see the Indian government's point. From the US point of view it is a serious enough crime that would merit some type of arrest. But in this country also remember that the nature of the crime is only aspect of a consideration," he said, adding the flight risk of Khobragade could have been one of the reasons for her arrest.

"It is a very very sensitive and a very difficult case to manage at this point," Jones said.

Jones observed that the very fact this case was investigated by the State Department and not the FBI or ICE Ė the two major investigative wings of the US Government Ė is reflective of the fact that there were serious considerations given before taking a decision to arrest Khobragade.

When asked about the Indian demand that the US should withdraw the case against Khobragade, which has been†ruled out by the State Department, Jones said this is feasible, though might be difficult at this stage of the court case.

"It (apology) is certainly feasible. It is certainly feasible. It is more difficult once a complaint is filed and prosecution has been initiated. It is more difficult for the justice department to back off after that and even for the

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