Diplomatic immunity not waived, so New Zealand expels US diplomat
WELLINGTON: A US diplomat has been expelled from New Zealand after Washington refused to waive diplomatic immunity so that New Zealand police investigating a serious crime could question him, officials said yesterday.
Details of the alleged crime were not revealed, but local media reported that the diplomat left the South Pacific nation last week suffering a broken nose and black eye.
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English labelled the US knockback on immunity regrettable and said he expects American 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," Mr English said. "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 Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said he was "disappointed" at the US refusal.
In response, he had asked for the man at the centre of the police investigation to be withdrawn from the country.
He said Wellington's ambassador in Washington had raised the issue with US officials.
Police said they were called to an incident in Lower Hutt, on Wellington's outskirts, in the early hours of March 12, 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 further investigate hit a diplomatic brick wall.
However, police said they still regard the case as active.
Local media named the man as diplomat Colin White and said he left Wellington with his wife and children.
A spokesman for the US embassy said they were "communicating with New Zealand authorities" on the issue. - AFP