Diplomat escapes sex assault charge in NZ

Last updated 14:50 29/06/2014
LUKAS HAYWARD/Stuff.co.nz

Police say a warrant to arrest has been issued for a man who escaped prosecution on a serious charge in Wellington after invoking diplomatic immunity.

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Police say a warrant to arrest has been issued for a man who escaped prosecution on a serious charge in Wellington after invoking diplomatic immunity.

A male aged in his 30s was arrested in the Wellington suburb of Brooklyn on the night of Friday May 9, police said today.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed the man was a foreign diplomat and that he escaped prosecution on a serious charge after invoking diplomatic immunity.

Police laid charges of burglary and assault with intent to rape after he allegedly followed a 21-year-old woman and assaulted her.

However they say they were unable to proceed with the prosecution after "legal issues" were established, a police spokesman said today. The alleged offender had since left New Zealand but the charges remained active and and a warrant to arrest for the man had been issued by the court.

That meant if the man was to return to New Zealand at any time he would be likely to face prosecution for his alleged offences, the spokesman added.

Key said today he was limited in what he could say because of a name suppression order but confirmed the Government had urged the diplomat's home country to let him face charges in New Zealand. But the plea fell on deaf ears.

"The country invoked diplomatic immunity; the person has gone back to their home country. My understanding is that there is an investigation being undertaken in their home country."

Key said the Government made its views clear to the country concerned that the person should have faced charges in New Zealand.

"But it is as you know up to the home country to decide whether they invoke diplomatic immunity or not."

However, the Government did not lodge a formal objection and was waiting to see how the case was being handled back in the diplomats home country.

The police spokesman said the victim had been fully informed of the process and police were continuing to support her.

 

Labour's foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer said the public needed to be reassured that the matter would not be "swept under the carpet and forgotten about".

"The alleged victim in the case deserves more than that.

"Our government should be demanding from the country concerned that it investigates the charge properly. That may include New Zealand police providing the evidence collected to enable a criminal prosecution."

The diplomat's extradition back to New Zealand to face charged should also be pursued as an option.

"The New Zealand government also needs to explain why name suppression for the diplomat and the country concerned was given and whether it had requested that diplomatic immunity be waived in this case."

The Vienna Convention that provides diplomatic immunity was an ancient agreement and one that New Zealand took seriously, Shearer said.

"It protects our diplomatic personnel serving overseas, no matter where they are located. Nevertheless, we also expect justice to be done and the rights of any victim to be respected and not simply forgotten."

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