30 years of incidents involving diplomats

BLAKE CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 14:06 30/06/2014
Sacha Macfarlane crash

CRASH: Sacha Macfarlane, inset, was killed when Chilean diplomat Luis Lopez crossed the centre line in his BMW while driving drunk. Lopez was driving the car on the left, Macfarlane was in the car on the right.

Joop Ave
JETTING AWAY: Indonesian minister Joop Ave made unwanted sexual advances on a waiter in Auckland. He fled in a private jet.
Mark Napier
CRAIG SIMCOX
CHILD PORN CHARGES: Australian navy officer Mark Napier chose to waive his diplomatic immunity to face charges in the Wellington District Court over possessing objectionable material.

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Diplomats to New Zealand have often cited diplomatic immunity or fled the country, when facing trouble.

FORMAL APOLOGY 25 YEARS LATER

November 1984: Chilean diplomat Luis Lopez crossed the centre line in his BMW on Old Hutt Road, killing 20-year-old Sacha Macfarlane. Lopez, who flew home 10 days later with diplomatic immunity, had consumed at least five double whiskies and shared two bottles of wine before driving. Macfarlane's father received a formal apology from Chile 25 years later, in 2010.

JET RETREAT AFTER SEX ADVANCES

April 1995: Joop Ave, Indonesia's Tourism, Post and Telecommunications Minister, left New Zealand in a private jet after allegedly making unwanted sexual advances to a male hotel worker delivering room service at Auckland's Carlton Hotel. The staff member required counselling after the incident. Despite his status as a foreign dignitary, Ave did not have diplomatic immunity.

THREE INCIDENTS IN ONE DAY

May 1995: Tongan Finance Minister Cecil Cocker was rebuked by the New Zealand Government for three incidents in one day involving unwanted sexual advances on women at the Asian Development Bank conference in Auckland. Police were reportedly called but were unable to speak with Cocker due to his immunity. Foreign Minister Don McKinnon later complained to the Tongan Government.

NO CHARGES FOR INDECENT EXPOSURE

November 1995: A Kenyan official at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting held in Auckland flew home after allegedly indecently exposing himself to a female staff member at the Carlton Hotel. No charges were laid and it is understood the official had diplomatic immunity.

CRASHED, REFUSED BREATH TEST

January 1996: After crashing into a parked Audi, Japanese Ambassador Sadakazu Taniguchi failed to stop for police, refused a breath test and then claimed diplomatic immunity.

SCRUTINY OF DIPLOMATS 'ANNOYING'

May 1997: Mexican cultural attache Sergio Pichardo refused to undertake an evidential breath test when stopped by police in Wellington. Pichardo had run a red light and later denied he had been drinking. He said the scrutiny of diplomats in New Zealand was "annoying".

RESIGNATION AFTER ADVANCES

November 1997: Colombian Ambassador Hernando Barjuch resigned after the diplomatic squad began investigating an allegation he exposed himself and sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman at a Lower Hutt cinema. A second woman also complained to police about the conduct of the ambassador, saying that after dining with the Barjuch, he had forced her up against the wall and exposed himself.

$6200 UNPAID PARKNIG FINES

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March 1998: French attache Daniel Guillaume received a rebuke from Foreign Affairs over $6200 in unpaid parking fines in Wellington. A Foreign Affairs spokesman said diplomats in New Zealand were issued with a handbook on arrival explaining they were expected to pay their fines, but they had a right to ask for their fines to be written off.

CRASHED INTO A TRACTOR

December 1998: The diplomatic protection squad investigated a Marlborough car crash involving Thai diplomat Duanga Thit Charoenchati, after he crashed into a tractor.

STABBED A WAITER

November 2000: Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer waived diplomatic immunity for Mario Fierro, the partner of an Australian diplomat stationed in Wellington. Fierro, a waiter, had appeared in court after stabbing a waiter at the restaurant where he worked.

REFUSED TO BREATH TEST

March 2001: A Brazilian diplomat claimed diplomatic immunity when police sought a breath test after he rolled a 4x4 vehicle in Kelburn at 2.30am. An embassy attache said the incident had been blown out of proportion. Witnesses said the driver stank of alcohol.

SNIFFER DOG 'GETS' RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT

August 2001: A sniffer dog smelled an illegal drug on a Russian diplomat at Auckland Airport but Customs decided not to search him.

BRUTAL CHINESE BODYGUARDS

June 2010: Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman cried foul after a Tibetan flag he was waving in the face of Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping was taken from his hands by Xi's bodyguards. Questions around whether the guards had diplomatic immunity ensued, with Foreign Affairs saying only accredited diplomats had the immunity. The guards left New Zealand without facing charges.

NAVY OFFICER HAD CHILD SEX IMAGES

November 2010: Australian navy officer Mark Napier chose to waive his diplomatic immunity to face charges in the Wellington District Court over possessing objectionable material. More than 40,000 child exploitation images were found on his computer and after pleading guilty to the charges, he returned to Australia where he had signed up for treatment.

WRECKED A RENTAL CAR

May 2011: Russian first secretary Valery Martynov claimed diplomatic immunity after driving a rental car into a river in April 2010 and refusing to pay the repair bill of nearly $10,000. He was later declared bankrupt in the Wellington District Court after rental company Hertz tried to recover the cost of the damage. The validity of the bankruptcy was later questioned given Martynov 's immunity. Martynov told the media the story reported was "totally false".

SPEEDING DIPLOMAT

February 2014: Retiring Police Commissioner Peter Marshall took down the details of a car he saw speeding through a red light in central Wellington one night. Marshall was told by the diplomatic protection squad weeks later the car involved was driven by a senior diplomat.

DIPLOMAT FLEES AFTER SEX ASSAULT

June 2014: Prime Minister John Key confirmed a foreign diplomat fled New Zealand following a police investigation into an alleged sexual assault in Wellington. The man, in his 30s, was arrested in May after he allegedly assaulted the 21-year-old woman he followed to her home. Foreign Affairs requested the diplomat's home country waive his diplomatic immunity, but the request was refused.

- Stuff

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