Thursday, Nov 27, 2014

India slams fresh indictment against Devyani by US prosecutors

In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2013 file photo, diplomat Devyani Khobragade, center, arrives at Chaitya Bhoomi, a memorial to Indian freedom fighter B.R. Ambedkar, with her father Uttam Khobragade in Mumbai, India. (AP) In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2013 file photo, diplomat Devyani Khobragade, center, arrives at Chaitya Bhoomi, a memorial to Indian freedom fighter B.R. Ambedkar, with her father Uttam Khobragade in Mumbai, India. (AP)
Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Posted: March 15, 2014 3:15 pm | Updated: March 15, 2014 3:38 pm

Reacting strongly to the second indictment against its diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the US, India on Saturday said it was an “unnecessary” step and any measure consequent to the decision will “unfortunately” impact upon efforts on both sides to build India-US strategic partnership.

Making clear that as far as India is concerned the case has no merit, the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said, now that Khobragade has returned, the court in the US has no jurisdiction in India over her and government will therefore no longer engage on this case in the US legal system.

“We are disappointed that the relevant office of the United States Department of Justice chose to obtain a second indictment against Devyani Khobragade, despite the fact that the first indictment and arrest warrant were dismissed earlier this week,” the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said.

India’s reaction came after US prosecutors re-indicted her on visa fraud charges and accused the Indian diplomat of “illegally” underpaying and “exploiting” her domestic maid.

The second indictment, which came a day after a US court dismissed an earlier indictment, accused her of visa fraud and making false statements about the visa application of her maid Sangeeta Richard.

The 21-page indictment, filed by the office of India-born US prosecutor Preet Bharara, states that the diplomat “knowingly made” multiple false representations and presented false information to US authorities in order to obtain a visa for a personal domestic worker.

The fresh indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan also charges that Khobragade submitted to the US State Department an employment contract of her domestic worker which she knew contained “materially false and fraudulent statements.”

An arrest warrant was today issued against Khobragade in the US after her fresh indictment.

The 39-year-old diplomat, who was arrested in New York on December 12th, was strip-searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.

The 1999-batch IFS officer, who was released on a USD 250,000 bond, was later granted full diplomatic immunity and she flew back to India on January 10th. She has since been transferred to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.

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