USA diplomat wanted by police has left NZ

Claudine Rigal
Mars 20, 2017

New Zealand asked the United States to remove the man, and American officials confirmed he left Saturday.

"Officials in Wellington and our Ambassador in Washington DC have clearly conveyed to the United States the expectation that foreign diplomats obey the law in New Zealand and are seen to face justice in New Zealand", the Saturday statement said.

White left the address with a broken nose and a black eye before police arrived.

The man was protected by diplomatic immunity, which the New Zealand police asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to waive on 13 March so they could proceed with an investigation.

It is surprising the US Embassy refuses to lift diplomatic immunity for a diplomat involved in an incident in Lower Hutt, a worldwide law expert says.

White and his family have since left the country, according to One News.

Muhammad Rizalman was extradited back to New Zealand, following a 2014 incident indecent assault. It is understood the diplomat has since left the country, although New Zealand police said the investigation was "active".

The diplomat, named by TVNZ as embassy attache Colin White, claimed diplomatic immunity after the incident.

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

"Any allegations of wrongdoing are always fully investigated".

This was not the first high-profile case involving an overseas official based in Wellington.

Foreign diplomats in New Zealand are normally immune from criminal prosecution, under reciprocal worldwide arrangements.

However, the Ministry can ask for that to be waived if there are allegations of serious crimes.

The foreign ministry said it makes clear that it expected all "foreign diplomats to abide by New Zealand law" and that they should suspend immunity should law enforcement request it in relation to allegations of serious crimes.

If an interview goes ahead, police can then seek a further waiver so they can prosecute the diplomat.

"I was kept informed of MFAT's decision, and I am satisfied with the way the Ministry has conducted this process".

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