Diplomat Escapes Sexual Assault Charges in New Zealand After Claiming Diplomatic Immunity

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By Anne Lu | July 1, 2014 1:16 PM EST

An unnamed diplomat has escaped his sexual assault charges in New Zealand by claiming diplomatic immunity. The details of the case, including the diplomat’s identity and home country, were suppressed by a judge.

According to the Associated Press, the man, who is in his 30s, followed a 21-year-old woman and assaulted her on May 9.

The man was charged with burglary and assault with the intent to rape, each of which would have put the man to prison for 10 years if proven guilty.

However, the man, who is understood have refused giving a DNA sample for the case, claimed diplomatic immunity and went home.

New Zealand government had sought to waive the man’s diplomatic immunity so he could be tried in the country, but his home country refused. The man was sent home within days of the incident.

Prime Minister John Key said it was the country’s “very strong preference” that the man face trial, explaining, “Effectively the sending country stopped us from doing that by invoking diplomatic immunity. Though, I would make the point that it’s our expectation he will be held to account in his home country.”

Mr Key cleared that while the man’s boss in New Zealand has been told how seriously the country views the situation, New Zealand and the diplomat’s home country maintain good relations.

A NZ judge suppressed the man’s identity and the details of the sex case, and government lawyers interpreted it as including his home country.

Louise Nicholas, survivor advocate for Rape Prevention Education, called the diplomatic immunity a “crime in itself.”

“It’s really difficult for the Government. There is nothing you can do about it. The victim has to live with knowing there will be no justice for her. It is disgusting of the [diplomat’s] government to allow this man home,” Nicholas told the New Zealand Herald.

“For these people to be able to legally walk free is a crime in itself.”

She praised the NZ Government’s efforts to waive the diplomat’s immunity, but still look forward to having him extradited to face the judicial process in the country.

Police spokesman Nick Bohm added that the complainant “has been fully informed throughout the process and we are continuing to support her.”

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