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New Zealand disappointed with S. Korea not cooperating with sexual assault probe involving diplomat

All News 14:56 July 30, 2020

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- New Zealand said Thursday it has expressed disappointment that South Korea's government did not cooperate with a police investigation into allegations that one of its diplomats sexually assaulted a local embassy employee when he was stationed in Wellington.

The male employee has accused the Korean diplomat of groping parts of his body over three different occasions in 2017. The case has drawn fresh attention after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the issue in a phone call with President Moon Jae-in earlier this week.

"The New Zealand government has expressed its disappointment that the Korean government did not cooperate with earlier requests from New Zealand Police in respect of this case," a spokesperson at New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in emailed comments to Yonhap News Agency.

"New Zealand's position is that we expect all diplomats to follow the laws of the country they are in, and to be legally accountable for their actions," the official said. "As this matter is a New Zealand Police investigation, the New Zealand Government will make no further comment."

South Korea's foreign ministry looked into the case and had the diplomat's salary cut for a month as a disciplinary measure before reassigning him to the current post in Southeast Asia, according to sources familiar with the matter.

During the phone call with Ardern, Moon said that his government will handle the case after ascertaining related facts, according to a Cheong Wa Dae official. A foreign ministry official said the government will try to resolve the issue smoothly while communicating closely with the New Zealand government.

New Zealand has not requested the extradition of the diplomat.

This file photo taken Dec. 27, 2019, shows the building that houses the New Zealand Embassy in Seoul. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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