Visa fraud case: Devyani seeks extension of deadline for indictment

DevyaniDevyani Khobragade, the deputy Counsel General at the Indian Consulate was arrested on December 12.

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has sought a one-month extension of the deadline for charging her in the visa fraud case, but her plea has been opposed by the prosecution.

Khobragade has requested for the extension of the January 13 indictment deadline, saying the "pressure of the impending deadline" is interfering with the ability of the concerned parties to have meaningful discussions.

India-born US prosecutor Preet Bharara's office is required to file charges against the 39-year-old diplomat within 30 days of her arrest.

However, in the request submitted Monday with Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Khobragade's counsel sought postponement of the preliminary hearing date, currently scheduled for January 13, and extension of the indictment deadline by 30 days "to and including February 12, 2014".

"Significant communications have been had between the prosecution and the defense and amongst other government officials and it is our strong view that the pressure of the impending deadline is counterproductive to continued communications," Khobragade's counsel Daniel Arshack said in the request.

Responding to Arshack's request, Bharara wrote to the judge that his office is opposed to extension of deadline, saying plea discussions can continue even after she is charged.

"This office remains receptive to continuing the plea discussions that have taken place over the past several weeks. We have participated in hours of discussion in the hope of negotiating a plea that could be entered in Court before January 13," Bharara said. "Indeed, as recently as Saturday, January 5, the government outlined reasonable parameters for a plea that could resolve the case, to which the defendant has not responded."

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