US diplomat wanted by police for questioning has left New Zealand

A US Embassy source confirmed on Saturday attache Colin White has left the country.
FAIRFAX NZ

A US Embassy source confirmed on Saturday attache Colin White has left the country.

A United States diplomat wanted for questioning by police after an alleged assault has left New Zealand.

Embassy attache Colin White was at the centre of a diplomatic stoush between the two countries after police were called to an address in the Wellington suburb of Tirohanga on Sunday night 

White left the address with a broken nose and a black eye before police arrived. 

Muhammad Rizalman was extradited back to New Zealand, following a 2014 indecent assault.
MONIQUE FORD / FAIRFAX NZ

Muhammad Rizalman was extradited back to New Zealand, following a 2014 indecent assault.

A request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on Friday for White to waive diplomatic immunity was declined by the US Government. 

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On Saturday, a US Embassy source confirmed White had left the country. 

White, a technical attache at the US embassy in Wellington, was understood to have been working with the GCSB spy agency. 

The US embassy said in a statement: "We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of US Government personnel.

"Any allegations of wrongdoing are always fully investigated. We are communicating with New Zealand authorities."

This was not the first high-profile case involving an overseas official based in Wellington.

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Malaysian military official Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail was extradited back to New Zealand, following a 2014 incident where he defecated outside a Wellington woman's home and indecently assaulted her.

He left New Zealand shortly after the incident, but had to return to New Zealand to face trial.

After serving a sentence of home detention, he was escorted back to Malaysia by two New Zealand police officers.

According to MFAT, foreign diplomats have diplomatic immunity from any criminal processes, and Kiwi diplomats enjoy the same protection when working overseas. 

However, the Ministry can ask for that to be waived if there are allegations of serious crimes. 

Police may also ask MFAT to request a waiver of diplomatic immunity to allow them to investigate allegations against a foreign diplomat, and police cannot interview a diplomat without that waiver. 

If an interview goes ahead, police can then seek a further waiver so they can prosecute the diplomat. 

Where a waiver is refused, MFAT can ask the diplomat's government to withdraw that person. 

 - Sunday Star Times

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