Devyani Khobragade indicted, leaves for India after being granted diplomatic immunity

Jan 10 2014, 19:56 IST
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Charges against Devyani Khobragade will remain and she will have to face trial, if she returns to the US without diplomatic immunity, says Preet Bharara. Charges against Devyani Khobragade will remain and she will have to face trial, if she returns to the US without diplomatic immunity, says Preet Bharara.
SummaryThe Indian diplomat is returning to India but will have to face trial if she returns to the US.

Senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was today indicted for visa fraud and making false statements by a grand jury which held that the charges against her will remain even as she headed back to India after being accorded full diplomatic immunity.

The charges against 39-year-old Khobragade will remain and she will have to face trial, if she returns to the US without diplomatic immunity, US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a letter to District Judge Shira Scheindlin.

Bharara said the grand jury has 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," Bharara said in his letter.

"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 said.

"The charges against me are false and baseless. I look forward to proving them wrong," Khobragade said as she boarded the plane back to India.

She also affirmed her determination to ensure that this episode does not leave a lasting imprint on her family, in particular her children who are still in the US.

Khobragade was granted full diplomatic immunity on January 8 under the India-US Headquarters agreement.

On January 9, the US request for waiver of diplomatic immunity to Khobragade was refused by India.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade, was arrested on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid. She was released on a USD 250,000 bond.

The diplomat was strip searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two sides with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats.

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