No apology, no withdrawal of charges against Devyani says US

December 20, 2013 | By | Reply More

Dec 20, – India is hoping to end this stand-off, described as the worst between the two countries since 1971, with Khobragade’s transfer to India’s Permanent Mission to the UN.

hromedia No apology, no withdrawal of charges against Devyani says US intl. news2It will bring her full diplomatic immunity, which she didn’t enjoy as an official at India’s consulate in New York, and will thus protect her from prosecution.

But the US doesn’t quite see it that way.

“If there’s a change in immunity, because of a different diplomatic status, that immunity would start on the date it’s conferred,” said state department spokesperson Marie Harf.

India had said that this move would give her the necessary diplomatic immunity. Harf, however, said this immunity would not be retroactive.

They are yet to receive any request from the Indian government with regard to transfer of Khobragade to India’s Permanent Mission to the UN, she said.

“Generally speaking, if there’s a change in immunity, because of a different diplomatic status, that immunity would start on the date it’s conferred, after the process,” she added.

“So there’s a process: it goes to the UN Secretariat, comes to the US state department, everybody has to say yes. There’s a process, a bureaucratic process. And then, if a different diplomatic status is conferred, it?s conferred at that date.”

“We haven’t received an official request for re-accreditation. Obviously, if we do, we’ll look at it. I don’t want to venture to guess hypothetically what a new position might look like because we haven’t received that yet,” she said.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, 39-year-old Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on visa fraud charges in connection with her housekeeper Sangeeta Richard by the state department’s diplomatic security wing, and then handed over to the US Marshals Service (USMS).

Khobragade was taken into custody as she was dropping her daughter to school before being released on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court. If convicted, she could get 15 years in jail.

The US made clear on Thursday it was not planning to withdraw those charges.

“We take these allegations very seriously. We’re not in any way walking back from those allegations or the charges. Again, this is really a law enforcement issue,” Harf said.

But it’s not up to the state department now. If the judge dealing with the case is convinced of Khobragade’s changed immunity status, the case will be dismissed.

Khobragade’s lawyer Daniel Arshack has been citing a state department guideline on immunity to claim his client will be protected proactively by the transfer.

The document issued by the state department’s bureau of diplomatic security in 2011 said, “Criminal immunity precludes the exercise of jurisdiction by the courts over an individual whether the incident occurred prior to or during the period in which such immunity exists.”

Khobragade is safe at the UN, according to this paper.

But Harf said she was not aware of this guideline.

“Don’t even know what statute you’re looking at,” she said when it was read out to her at the daily briefing.

Even if the state department is right, India believes full immunity that comes with the transfer will protect Khobragade future prosecution for those same charges.

Harf said Khobragade’s housekeeper’s father in law was “privately employed” by a US diplomat in New Delhi, but not by the embassy or the government.

“I can confirm that he either was or is. I don’t know the current status, employed in a personal capacity by a US diplomat, not as a US government employee.”

Harf called “highly inaccurate” India’s allegations that the United States did not respond to the series of letters and communications that were made by it.

“It’s highly inaccurate to say that we ignored any Government of India communiques on this issue, period,” she said, but refused to divulge the details citing legal nature of the case.

“We’re still compiling a precise sequence of all of our government-to-government communications on it, goes back months. Some of these communications are private diplomatic conversations or law enforcement sensitive,” she said.

The Indian and US interpretation of the issues and allegations at play throughout this entire scenario, she said.

“But I would say that we have engaged in extensive conversations with the Government of India about this issue in Washington, in New York, in New Delhi, going back to the summer.”

“We’ve also requested the Government of India to provide us with the results of its own enquiry into the allegations made by Dr Khobragade’s domestic worker and to make her available to discuss them, I don’t think either of which was done,” she alleged.

Press journalist for HRO media – Debi Campillos contributed to this report.

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Category: International

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