New Zealand wants action on diplomat's sex charge

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand said Monday, June 30, it would push for a foreign envoy to be prosecuted in his home country after he escaped sex charges by invoking diplomatic immunity.

Neither the man's name nor his home nation can be published because of a court suppression order but officials in Wellington said they did not want the case "swept under the carpet."

"We're going to stay on the case, we're going to do everything that we possibly can to ensure that this person is held to account," Prime Minister John Key told reporters.

Police say the man, aged in his 30s, was arrested in the capital Wellington last month and charged with assault with intent to rape after he allegedly followed a 21-year-old woman home and attacked her.

He was also charged with burglary.

However, the prosecution had to be dropped when the diplomat's country refused to waive his right to immunity and whisked him home a day after he was charged.

Key said the country had given assurances that it was treating the case seriously and his government was closely monitoring developments to see if he was charged in his homeland, since no action could be taken in New Zealand.

"I don't know why they've taken that course of action but they have... it was the strong preference of the (New Zealand) government that the country would waive diplomatic immunity," he said.

"That's what we communicated to the relevant body here in New Zealand. The country chose not to do that and the person left the next day."

Under the Vienna Convention, diplomats cannot be arrested or detained in foreign countries.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said diplomats still had an obligation to respect the law. He called in the alleged predator's head of mission to convey New Zealand's interest in how it responded to the "very serious crime".

"We have seen nothing to suggest the matter is being swept under the carpet," he said.

"The ministry is monitoring this investigation closely and will continue to watch developments and consider what further steps are required." –