NEW YORK: In a major setback to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, a federal judge has rejected her plea to extend the January 13 deadline for a preliminary hearing on the visa fraud issue, the date by when she has to be charged.
The three-page order, by which Khobragade will have to appear in court, means the indictment against her will now have to filed before or on January 13.
“We are considering our options,” Khobragade’s lawyer Daniel Arshack told PTI when asked about the request for extending the indictment deadline being denied by the judge.
He did not elaborate.
However, sources said one of the options Khobragade, 39, now has is to file another motion in court seeking extension of the indictment deadline and preliminary hearing.
In her order, Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York said adjournment of the date will not grant her the “relief she seeks” regarding plea negotiations between her and the government to resolve the visa fraud case.
An indictment or information charging the defendant with the commission of an offence must be filed within 30 days of the date of the defendant’s arrest or service of a summons in connection with such charges, she said.
Any adjournment of the preliminary hearing date will not have any impact on the filing of the indictment.
“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.”
“Therefore, good cause has not been demonstrated, and the defendant’s request for an adjournment of the preliminary hearing date is denied,” Netburn said.
She said since Khobragade was arrested on December 12, 2013, she “must be indicted (or an information by the government must be filed against her)” by January 13.
“Therefore, an extension of the preliminary hearing date …will not relieve the pressure identified by the defendant.
Moreover, the defendant cannot extend Speedy Trial time limits merely by filing a waiver.”–PTI