Tue, Mar 21, 2017 - Page 5 News List

N Zealand expels US diplomat after probe obstructed

AFP, WELLINGTON

A US diplomat has been expelled from New Zealand after Washington refused to waive diplomatic immunity so police investigating a serious crime could question him, officials said yesterday.

Details of the alleged crime have not been revealed, but local media reported the diplomat left the South Pacific nation last week after sustaining a broken nose and black eye.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English said the refusal was regrettable and he expects US authorities to carry out their own investigation.

“We expect all diplomats here to obey our law and if it’s broken we’d expect our police to investigate,” English told reporters. “We regret that they didn’t give us a waiver on immunity, but they didn’t, and now it’s in the hands of their authorities.”

Earlier, New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully said he was “disappointed” at the US refusal and in response had asked for the man at the center of the police investigation to be withdrawn from the country.

Wellington’s ambassador in Washington had raised the issue with US officials, he said.

Police said early last Sunday they were called to an incident in Lower Hutt, on Wellington’s outskirts, which “involved an individual from the US embassy in Wellington.”

By the time they arrived, the person had left the scene and no arrests were made.

Attempts to investigate further hit a diplomatic brick wall, but police said they still regard the case as active.

McCully said foreign affairs officials relayed a police request to waive immunity, but their US counterparts refused.

Local media named the diplomat as Colin White and said he left Wellington with his wife and children.

TVNZ, which broke the story, reported that White was a technical attache who had been working closely with New Zealand’s intelligence service, the Government Communications Security Bureau.

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