29 Jun 2014

Diplomat facing charges leaves NZ

4:03 pm on 29 June 2014

It's been revealed that a foreign diplomat facing criminal charges was allowed to return home after his home country pleaded diplomatic immunity.

Police in Wellington say the man, aged in his 30s, was arrested in the Wellington suburb of Brooklyn on 9 May and charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape after he followed a 21-year-old woman and assaulted her.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says New Zealand sought a waiver of diplomatic immunity so the courts could deal with the charges, but this was refused by the man's home country, which subsequently flew him home.

Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand made it clear it wanted criminal charges brought against the foreign diplomat to go through the local court system.

Mr Key said New Zealand hadn't made formal representation on the issue, but did make clear its preference was for the case to proceed.

"We'd certainly expressed our view that there was an argument as I understand it that the person should have been charged and faced charges in New Zealand but it is, as you know, up to home country to decide whether they invoke diplomatic immunity or not."

Mr Key said he understood the home country of the arrested man was investigating the incident and the diplomat may face charges there.

Police say the charges remain active and a warrant for the man's arrest has been issued by the courts, and he will face charges if he returns to New Zealand.