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Official of the Embassy of Mexico flees the country

Aug 17,2017
A military attache of the Mexican Embassy to Korea who faces accusations of inappropriately touching a former female embassy employee has refused summons and departed the country, Seoul police said Wednesday.

Jongno Precinct Police said he touched the woman on at least three occasions between June of last year and January.

The former embassy employee, a Korean-Paraguayan woman in her 30s, filed a complaint with Seoul police on July 27 against the official. On one occasion, he was said to have hugged her from behind, grazing her breasts with his arms. The incidents took place in the lobby of the embassy, in the office area, as well in a car.

Police summoned the attache twice, and he was said to have responded that he would appear on Aug. 3, but he departed for Mexico on Aug. 4.

The former employee told Munhwa Ilbo Wednesday that after she quit working for the embassy, she informed the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs of what had happened but was told to file a complaint with police herself before there could be any diplomatic intervention. After she filed the complaint, she said she had to “wait for the results of the investigation” and that after the official in question departed from the country, she was told to contact the Paraguay Embassy.

Because this official holds diplomatic immunity, it will be difficult to follow through with investigations and bring him to Korean court without the cooperation of the Mexican Embassy. A Korean Foreign Ministry official said it has therefore requested such cooperation.

“Only when judicial proceedings begin can diplomatic procedures also start,” said the ministry official. “That is why it was suggested that she file the case with police when we first became aware of it.”

The official added that after the accused military attache refused summons, the Korean Foreign Ministry summoned the acting ambassador of the Mexican Embassy and issued a complaint. The ministry was said to have incrementally increased its protests as the attache refused to heed to police summons and conveyed a statement to the embassy stating that even diplomats have a duty to abide by the laws of the country.

The embassy was said to have responded that the military attache was only temporarily back in Mexico for “necessary administrative procedures” and plans to return to Korea later this month.

The Mexican Embassy in Seoul was not immediately available for comment.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]