Egypt officials deny diplomatic immunity claims in UK harassment row

Amer Sultan in London, Thursday 13 Sep 2012

UK-based Egyptian diplomats refute reports that they tried to claim diplomatic immunity for Egyptian sports official accused of sexual harassment in London


The Egyptian consulate-general in London on Thursday strenuously denied it has tried to claim diplomatic immunity for an Egyptian official convicted of sexual harassment by UK authorities.

Ibrahim Ahmed Khalil, head of development at the Egyptian Sports Ministry and a member of Egypt's Paralympic delegation, was arrested on Sunday in London and accused by police of "sexual touching."

British rightwing newspaper the Daily Mail claimed that, following Khalil's arrest, the Egyptian embassy had attempted – but failed – to claim diplomatic immunity for the accused official.

UK-based Egyptian diplomats, however, dismiss the allegations.

"We never tried to claim diplomatic immunity for Mr Ibrahim, since he was on a sports-related trip and had no diplomatic passport," Hesham Khalil, Egypt's consul-general in London, told Ahram Online.

"We would never do anything illegal," he added. "We completely respect the domestic laws and regulations in all countries in which Egypt is represented."

The consul-general went on to say that the idea of claiming diplomatic immunity had been tabled by Khalil's attorney, but that the consulate had categorically refused to take such a step.

Although Khalil pled guilty to charges of sexual touching, he insisted his actions had been unintentional.

The official was accused by a 21-year-old girl who claimed he had attempted to grope her breasts. According to Khalil, however, he had simply tried to show her where to pin a badge bearing an Egyptian flag.

While the court accepted Khalil's apology on the basis that it had been a one-off error in judgment, he was nevertheless slapped with a £375 fine.

The episode reportedly happened outside a hotel in central London.

Following the incident, the consul-general advised all Egyptians travelling overseas "to be aware of, understand and respect other cultures, customs and laws." 

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