Iraqi diplomat's sons investigated in Portugal over assault

AP News
Posted: Aug 23, 2016 6:53 AM

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal's foreign minister says the alleged beating of a 15-year-old Portuguese boy by the teenage sons of Iraq's ambassador to Lisbon is "extremely serious."

Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said in a television interview late Monday that Portugal may ask for the diplomatic immunity of the ambassador's 17-year-old twin sons to be lifted if prosecutors decide to bring charges.

The Portuguese boy was reportedly still in a coma Tuesday after last week's night-time attack in a street of Ponte de Sor, a rural town about 180 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of the capital Lisbon. One of the diplomat's sons was studying at a flying school there.

Local emergency services said the boy had multiple facial fractures and was evacuated to a Lisbon hospital by helicopter. The incident has brought an outcry in Portugal.

A statement published on the website of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said the sons of Ambassador Saad Mohammed Ridha were victims of "a heavy beating" by six people at a restaurant in the town, with one of the pair suffering a broken nose and rib. It alleged the group "cursed" the diplomat's sons "because they were Arabs and Muslims." The ambassador has filed a complaint with local police, the statement said.

The Iraqi boys gave an interview to Portuguese television channel SIC, with brief excerpts broadcast Tuesday. They indicated they had been involved in an altercation with a group of local youths at a bar earlier in the evening. They said they haven't claimed diplomatic immunity and have cooperated with the police investigation.

The excerpts did not feature a direct question about whether the pair had attacked the Portuguese boy. The brothers had no visible injuries.

A woman who answered the phone at the Iraqi embassy said no information would be provided about the matter because it was being handled between the embassy and the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. She declined to provide further information and refused to give her name.


Susannah George in Baghdad contributed.