India on Wednesday said a top Saudi diplomat accused of holding captive and raping two Nepalese maids in his home near New Delhi has left the country under diplomatic immunity.
“We learn that Saudi Embassy First Secretary, Mr Majed Hassan Ashoor, who is allegedly accused of abusing 2 Nepali maids, has left India,” India’s foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a statement.
Swarup said Ashoor is protected by the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations. He did not say exactly when Ashoor had left.
Indian police investigated Ashoor for “rape, sodomy and illegal confinement” following a complaint by the two women that they were beaten and sexually assaulted by him in his apartment in the upscale satellite city of Gurgaon.
But the police investigations were stalled after they were unable to question Ashoor due to his diplomatic status and officers had sought the Indian foreign ministry’s help obtaining getting access to him.
The foreign ministry had last Thursday called the Saudi envoy to seek his cooperation in the police investigations.
The Saudi embassy has denied the allegations saying it “strongly stresses that these allegations are false and have not been proven”.
The women, aged 30 and 50, were rescued on September 7 from the 10th and 12th floor of a high rise building after a third, recently-hired maid, raised the alarm.
Both alleged victims were hired as domestic helps and told police that the Saudi diplomat imprisoned them for months before their rescue.
“She (the recently-hired maid) realised what was going on and we shared our ordeal with her. She was smart… she threatened them and left a few days later, and she helped us get out,” one alleged victim told AFP after arriving in Kathmandu last week.
They had reportedly travelled to Delhi after being offered work by an agent in Nepal, which was hit by a devastating earthquake in April that destroyed homes and livelihoods and left many destitute.
Media reports said the diplomat and his family had moved to the Saudi embassy complex in New Delhi after police raided their home. Embassies are beyond the jurisdiction of host countries.
Under the Vienna convention, diplomats and their family members enjoy legal protection in countries where they are posted and cannot be arrested or detained for any crime.
The incident saw several women rights activists protest outside the Saudi embassy in New Delhi, demanding the diplomat’s arrest.
The allegations triggered a diplomatic headache for India ahead of a planned trip to the oil-rich nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.