The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

December 22, 2013

Handling of Indian diplomat unpleasant but typical

NEW YORK — It has sparked protests outside the American embassy in New Delhi. Burnings of President Barack Obama’s photo. And angry speeches by Indian officials.

But the arrest — and, yes, even the strip search — of an Indian diplomat accused of visa fraud also revealed a simple and longstanding reality of the U.S. justice system: Everyone charged with a crime here is supposed to be treated the same, whether wealthy or destitute, prominent or ordinary, citizen or foreigner.

“There is a remarkable and almost charming egalitarianism in it,” said New York City defense attorney Ron Kuby. “Everybody is treated in exactly the same disrespectful, casually brutal and arrogant fashion.”

The United States is the only place where “the rich as well as the poor get to sleep on cold floors and urinate in overflowing toilets — together.”

Indian officials have been fuming over the way federal marshals handled Devyani Khobragade, the country’s deputy consul general in New York, calling the treatment degrading and inhumane. Yet most Americans would find the procedures fairly typical for a criminal case — though certainly not pleasant.

Khobragade, who was arrested last week outside her daughter’s school, complained that she was strip-searched and held in a cell “with drug addicts” until her appearance before a judge.

She posted $250,000 bail and was released. And she insists she is not guilty of charges she submitted false documents to obtain a visa for an Indian woman who worked as her housekeeper in Manhattan.

The case stirred widespread outrage in India, where the idea of an educated, middle-class woman being strip-searched is almost unheard of, except in the most extraordinary crimes. The fear of public humiliation resonates strongly there, and heavy-handed treatment by the police is normally reserved for the poor.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who brought the charges, was born in India and raised here. He said the diplomat was “fully searched” by a female deputy, which is “standard practice for every defendant ... in order to make sure that no prisoner keeps anything on his person that could harm anyone, including himself.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    DENVER — A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions....

    April 18, 2014

  • Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

    JUBA, South Sudan — An angry mob of South Sudanese youths attacked a U.N. base on Thursday to harm members of an ethnic minority sheltering inside. Peacekeepers were forced to open fire, amid rampaging violence that killed at least 12 ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    LOS ANGELES — Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Creek, old purse solve mystery

    ELK POINT, S.D. — Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson had planned to celebrate the end of the 1971 school year by gathering with classmates at a quarry along a gravel road....

    April 18, 2014

  • Chaotic scene described on sinking ferry

    MOKPO, South Korea — There was chaos and confusion on the bridge of a sinking ferry, with the captain first trying to stabilize the listing vessel before ordering its evacuation, a crewman said Thursday....

    April 18, 2014

  • Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

    PARIS — Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the incoming head of the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Organizers confident of safe race

    BOSTON — The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week....

    April 17, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Supremacist faces murder charges

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The white supremacist charged in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City made his first court appearance Tuesday....

    April 16, 2014

  • Iran cuts nuclear weapons ability

    VIENNA — The United Nations will release a report this week certifying that Iran’s ability to make a nuclear bomb has been greatly reduced because it has diluted half of its material that can be turned most quickly into weapons-grade ...

    April 16, 2014