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US diplomat police want to question leaves

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/03/2017

A New Zealand-based US diplomat police want to question has reportedly left the country.

The United States refused to waive diplomatic immunity for the man, who works in its Wellington embassy.

Police were called to an address in Lower Hutt last Sunday but he had left nursing a broken nose and a black eye, One News reported.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said in a statement on Saturday he was advised of the incident by his staff on the morning of March 12, shortly after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was advised by police.

Whether or not to request a waiver of immunity is a decision made by the secretary of foreign affairs.

"This occurred in the afternoon of Monday, March 13, in accordance with New Zealand's policy to request a waiver of immunity when police wish to investigate allegations of serious crimes," Mr McCully says.

For the purpose of MFAT's policy, a serious crime is an offence for which the penalty is a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.

Mr McCully said he was kept informed of MFAT's decision to request a diplomatic immunity waiver.

The US government declined to waive the diplomat's immunity on Friday.

Mr McCully says he is satisfied with the way the ministry has conducted the process.

"Officials in Wellington and our ambassador in Washington DC have clearly conveyed to the US the expectation that foreign diplomats obey the law in New Zealand and are seen to face justice in New Zealand.

The refusal to waive immunity is disappointing and as a result MFAT has asked that the diplomat be withdrawn from New Zealand.

One News reported on Saturday that the diplomat has left New Zealand.

Mr McCully said, "I note that the US has said all allegations are always fully investigated".

A US government spokesman earlier said as a matter of policy the US does not comment on the specifics of matters under investigation.

"We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of US government personnel.

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