Devyani seeks indictment deadline extension

  • PTI, New York/Washington
  • Updated: Jan 07, 2014 16:15 IST

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade sought a one-month extension of the deadline for charging her in a visa fraud case involving her domestic help but her plea was opposed by the prosecution, even as the US on Tuesday said it wanted to resolve the “ordeal” as soon as possible.

Khobragade has requested for the extension of the January 13 indictment deadline, saying the "pressure of the impending" deadline is interfering with the ability of the parties to have meaningful discussions.

India-born US prosecutor Preet Bharara's office is required to file charges against the 39-year-old diplomat within 30 days of her arrest.

However, in the request submitted late on Monday with magistrate judge Sarah Netburn of the US district court for the southern district of New York, Khobragade's counsel sought postponement of the preliminary hearing date, currently scheduled for January 13 and extension of the indictment deadline by 30 days "to and including February 12, 2014".

"Significant communications have been had between the prosecution and the defense and amongst other government officials and it is our strong view that the pressure of the impending deadline is counterproductive to continued communications," Khobragade's counsel Daniel Arshack said in the request.

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The lawyer told the judge that he has conferred with the prosecution concerning extending the deadline and has been informed that the prosecution will not seek an extension of the deadline.

"We therefore, wish to inform the court that we waive the 30 day time limit set by the court on December 12, 2013 because we believe that the time limit is interfering with the parties ability to continue to have meaningful discussions," Arshack said in his request to the judge.

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Responding to Arshack's request, Bharara wrote to the judge that his office is opposed to the extension of the deadline sought by Khobragade, saying plea discussions can continue even after she is charged.

"This office remains receptive to continuing the plea discussions that have taken place over the past several weeks.

We have participated in hours of discussion in the hope of negotiating a plea that could be entered in court before January 13," Bharara said.

"Indeed, as recently as Saturday, January 5, the government outlined reasonable parameters for a plea that could resolve the case, to which the defendant has not responded," he said.

The US, meanwhile, stated that it wants the issue to be resolved as soon as possible, with State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf saying "As I've said, many, many times throughout this whole ordeal, that we don't want this to define our relationship going forward and don't think that it will."


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