US prosecutor Preet Bharara has told a judge in New York that his office is opposed to the one-month extension of the deadline for charging Devyani Khobragade in a visa fraud case as sought by her, saying plea discussions can continue even after she is charged.
Khobragade's lawyer Daniel Arshack has submitted a request with Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking postponement of the preliminary hearing date, currently scheduled for January 13, 2014 and extension of the indictment deadline by 30 days “to and including February 12, 2014”.
Bharara said the one-month adjournment of the January 13, 2014 preliminary hearing date has been sought in order to facilitate the plea discussions that have been ongoing between his office and Khobragade, 39.
“The deadline is designed to protect defendants from prosecutors who might drag out proceedings... In this case however, an indictment would further polarise the litigants. We would like to avoid that,” Arshack told PTI.
Meanwhile, the US State Department has expressed hope of arriving at a resolution of the issue, which has resulted in “hiccups” in the India-US bilateral ties.
This comes in the wake of strong Indian statement to the US that it cannot be “business as usual” between the two sides till the issue is resolved.
“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,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said noting that the US does not want India-US ties to be affected by the arrest of the Indian diplomat in New York last month.