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Saudi Diplomat Accused of Rape, Flees India Under Diplomatic Immunity

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Activists protesting this month outside the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi after a Saudi diplomat was accused of raping two Nepali women. Credit Altaf Qadri

Activists protesting this month outside the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi after a Saudi diplomat was accused of raping two Nepali women. Photo – Altaf Qadri

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NEW DELHI – A Saudi diplomat accused of raping two Nepali women who worked at his home near Delhi has left India, according to the Indian government, which confirmed that the man had diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs identified the diplomat as Majed Hassan Ashoor, the first secretary at the Saudi Embassy, in a statement released late Wednesday. The statement did not say when Mr. Ashoor had left India.

Attempts to contact the Saudi Embassy on Thursday were unsuccessful, but it had previously denied the women’s accusations.

The two women, who had worked for Mr. Ashoor as maids, said last week that they had been repeatedly raped, abused and threatened by the diplomat and other men at his home in Gurgaon, a city near Delhi. They also said they had been confined to the residence.

The police began an investigation and removed the women from Mr. Ashoor’s home last week, after receiving a tip from an advocacy group. The women have returned to Nepal.

The ministry’s statement on Wednesday said that Mr. Ashoor was protected by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, under which diplomats are immune from criminal prosecution in the country where they are posted.

The police had been unable to question Mr. Ashoor because of his immunity. Navdeep Singh Virk, the police commissioner in Gurgaon, said the authorities would continue to investigate other individuals, based on the women’s statements.

The women, who have not been publicly identified, said that they had come to India from Nepal several months ago and that an agent in Delhi had put them in touch with the diplomat’s family. The authorities in Nepal were tracing their path from Nepal to India.

“The case will go ahead,” Deep Kumar Upadhyay, the Nepalese ambassador to India, said in a televised interview with the ANI news agency. He added that it was “our duty to give justice to the poor victims.”

“If there is talk of any involvement of any kind, the Saudi government will have to investigate,” he said.

Saudi Arabia is one of India’s largest suppliers of crude oil and its fourth-largest trade partner.

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