US to prosecute Devyani Khobragade despite India's protests

Devyani KhobragadeThe US is going ahead with the prosecution of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade despite protests by India and asserted that it has no intention of withdrawing the case of visa fraud against her.

The US also rejected India's contention that it has misconstrued salary details in the visa application of Khobragade's domestic help, asserting there is "no goof up" and that the case against her is on a firm footing.

The US authorities made it clear that the visa fraud charges against Khobragade will not be dropped, even as US ambassador Nancy Powell expressed regret for the circumstances that led to the Indian diplomat's arrest.

In her New Year message Powell wanted India to overlook the incidence and cooperate with the US in expanding bilateral relations.

She wished India a very happy and prosperous New Year.

"I join Secretary Kerry in expressing our regret for the circumstances of the consular officer's arrest, but we believe that we can look forward to continuing to expand our bilateral relations," Powell said in a statement issued today.

US embassy sources said, "The strength of the fraud in the case is very strong" and that more evidence was being gathered against the 39-year-old diplomat before the indictment is filed.

The deadline for indictment is 13 January 2014.

The US authorities also asserted that there was no question of apology to India over the arrest of Khobragade, the then deputy consul general of India, in New York on 12 December 12 that has led to widespread indignation in India.

The Indian government has demanded withdrawal of the case and an apology for the ill-treatment of the diplomat in violation of the Vienna Convention on the treatment of envoys.

The US embassy sources also said Khobragade's transfer from the Indian consulate to the country's UN mission subsequent to her arrest did not add to her diplomatic immunity.

They conceded, however, that if she gets UN immunity the diplomat cannot be prosecuted or brought to court for the period of the immunity. The case will be in ''suspension'' but will not be dismissed, they added.