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Old 03-12-2017, 08:00 PM
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Default How rowdy foreign diplomats’ immunity thwarts NYPD

http://nypost.com/2017/03/12/how-row...-thwarts-nypd/

How rowdy foreign diplomats’ immunity thwarts NYPD
By Dean Balsamini
March 12, 2017 | 1:26pm


Zambian diplomat Langford Banda
Ellis Kaplan


Zambian official Langford Banda will never be the king of Queens. He was detained in that borough in 2015 after crashing his BMW into a parked NYPD van while he “reeked of alcohol,” cops said.

But Banda — whose blood- *alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit — was allowed to spend the night sleeping it off in the 112th Precinct station house and let go the next morning.

“He was a total mess,” a law-enforcement source told The Post. “He got off because he’s a diplomat. Not our choice.”

Since 2015, the city has petitioned foreign countries eight times to waive a diplomat’s immunity so they could be prosecuted on a criminal charge — and was turned down every time, according to documents The Post obtained under the Freedom of Information Law.

In every case, prosecutors asked the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs to request waivers of diplomatic immunity from the suspect’s government via the US State Department.

And in every case, they were denied.

“The State Department always goes to the country to ask,” a former US diplomat told The Post. “Sometimes a country may want to burn the [offender] and waive the immunity because they don’t want the country to look bad.”

Only the foreign government can waive the immunity of their diplomats.

New York City — with 12,700 foreign diplomats living here — has gotten used to being handcuffed by international law.

“It’s all politics and, as usual, the cops are pawns stuck in the middle of the circus,” said Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s been the way we conducted business for so many years; I don’t think they would ever change it.”

The ex-cop said the Police Academy spends days going over diplomatic-immunity protocol.

“It’s an ‘elevator operation,’ ” Giacalone said. “The cop calls the sergeant, and the sergeant notifies the duty captain, who makes the notification. As soon as the person’s creds can be verified through the Intel Division . . . [cops must] let them walk.”

Said one prosecutor: “You get used to it. You don’t always get the justice you want.”

Haitian diplomat Marie Altagrace Astride Richie Nazaire was spared an assault rap in 2015 after allegedly choking an employee in her Queens apartment building during a squabble over a busted light fixture, according to an internal police and DA documents.

She “claimed diplomatic immunity and was released after the police confirmed her diplomatic status,” read the petition the

Queens district attorney sent to the Mayor’s Office.

In one of the most egregious cases of a diplomat ducking the law, German Consulate attaché Joachim Haubrichs used his get-out-of-jail card in October after allegedly giving his wife a black eye. A neighbor told The Post at the time that he kept her a virtual prisoner in their Upper East Side apartment.

The city says it takes “an *aggressive approach” in seeking immunity waivers.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said: “In spite of their immunity, we nevertheless expect that foreign diplomats respect our laws . . . those few individuals who do not should be held accountable for their *actions.”
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