India downgrades diplomatic immunity of US officials

India downgrades diplomatic immunity of US officials
Thu Dec 26, 2013 09:06:32

India has downgraded the diplomatic immunity of US consular officials over the arrest of one of its own diplomats in New York, officials and news reports said Wednesday.

US officials in four consulates in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Hyderabad were to be issued new identity cards specifying the limited immunity that will not protect them from prosecution for serious offences, the Hindustan Times daily reported.

New Delhi also withdrew the immunity of family members of US consular officials.

The measures were "firm, reciprocal steps," a government official told dpa on condition of anonymity, saying they were in line with the immunity enjoyed by Indian diplomats in the United States.

Devyani Khobragade, 39, India's deputy consul in New York, was arrested on December 12 and charged with giving false documents to support a visa application filed by her Indian housekeeper. She was also charged underpaying the domestic worker.

She was freed on a 250,000-dollar bond, but not before being strip-searched and held in a cell, leading to strong protests by India and a major diplomatic row with the US.

India is seeking her transfer to its mission in the United Nations, which would give her full diplomatic immunity from a trial in the US.


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