Sudan diplomat freed after sex abuse charge on New York subway

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 10, 2017 10:26 AM

By David Ingram

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Sudanese diplomat was arrested in New York City and charged with sexually rubbing up against a woman in a subway car but the charges were dropped and he was released because he had diplomatic immunity, police said on Tuesday.

Mohammad Abdalla Ali, 49, was riding a train out of the city's Grand Central Terminal on Monday afternoon when he approached a 38-year-old woman from behind and rubbed his crotch against her, New York Police Department spokeswoman Arlene Muniz said in a phone interview.

The woman reported Ali to police, who charged him with sexual abuse and forcible touching. The charges were later voided and he will not face prosecution, police said.

Representatives of Sudan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, where Ali is listed as finance attaché, could not immediately be reached for comment.

New York police said they had reported the incident involving Ali to the U.S. State Department, which could complain to the Sudanese government.

"We are in touch with the NYPD and the mayor's office so that we are able to take appropriate steps, as needed, to address this matter," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

The principle of diplomatic immunity generally restricts criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits against ambassadors and their staff, and it has been used to nullify charges ranging from abuse of domestic workers to parking violations. A tally in 2011 found that New York City was owed nearly $17 million in parking tickets issued to diplomats.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)