US judge denies Devyani’s request to extend Jan 13 hearing

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US-judge denies-DevyaniIn 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.

Shortly after the issuance of the order in which the judge said “good cause” has not been demonstrated in the plea, Khobragade’s laywer Daniel Arshack said he is “considering” other options.

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. It was issued late yesterday.

“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.”

In a January 7 letter to the federal court, Khobragade had said the “pressure of the impending” deadline of the indictment and preliminary hearing is interfering in the meaningful discussions between her and the government to resolve the visa fraud case.

Manhattan US attorney Preet Bharara’s office is required to file an indictment in the case within 30 days of Khobragade’s arrest and the deadline for the indictment is January 13.