Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said extending the date will not grant her the “relief she seeks” on plea negotiations between her and the government to resolve the case. Ms Khobragade’s lawyer says they are considering other options, like filing another motion.
Under US laws, Ms Khobragade has to be indicted within 30 days of her arrest or summons in connection with the charges. She was arrested on December 12 on charges of lying on the visa application of her domestic help Sangeeta Richard, and reneging on wages that were promised to her.
Judge Netburn said any adjournment of the preliminary hearing date will not have any impact on the filing of the indictment. The order means the indictment against Ms Khobragade will now have to be filed by January 13.
“The defendant has requested only that the preliminary date be adjourned for 30 days for good cause shown… Because a modification of the hearing date will not itself alter the time period for the filing of an indictment or information, the defendant’s concerns regarding the pressures of an impending indictment on plea negotiations will not grant her the relief she seeks, ” the judge said in her three-page order issued late yesterday.
Ms Khobragade was transferred to India’s Permanent Mission to the UN, but she is yet to receive a clearance from the US. More than 20 days after the UN submitted it, America continues to ‘review’ the visa application of Ms Khobragade, which would give her full diplomatic immunity. The unusual delay has upset Indian officials.
India, which has sought an apology and asked the US to withdraw the charges against the 39-year-old diplomat, has stepped up diplomatic pressure through a number of retaliatory measures against American diplomats.