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Daughter of diplomat suffered 'significant' head injury

Wednesday - 8/27/2014, 6:14pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Arlington County police have turned over the case of a teen girl given a "significant head injury" by her diplomat father to the State Department.

The girl was injured Monday night at the family's home in the 4000 block of 27th Road North in Arlington. Police say the girl was struck by her father, the Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea, who enjoys diplomatic immunity. He's identified as Ruben Maye Nsue Mangue.

"Following a verbal dispute among a father and daughter, the father picked up a wooden chair leg and struck her several times causing a pretty large laceration to the back of her head and a swollen eye," says Dustin Sternbeck, spokesman for Arlington County Police.

Sternbeck says police responded to the ambassador's residence around 9:30 Monday night and determined that "a malicious wounding had occurred."

The girl was taken to Virginia Hospital Center with what Sternbeck describes as "non-life threatening" but a "pretty significant head injury."

Ambassador Nsue was questioned but not taken into custody.

"Arlington County Police Department did not arrest or charge the subject involved in this case as he is an ambassador and has full diplomatic immunity, therefore Arlington County Police Department does not have jurisdiction," Sternbeck says.

Instead, police notified the State Department.

"The investigation concluded. We made a proper notification to the U.S. State Department and it is now in their hands," Sternbeck says.

"The State Department is deeply concerned by the alleged assault," says a State Department spokesperson, who asks not to be named.

The federal agency says it has been in close touch with Arlington County Police about the incident.

"The department is not at liberty to further discuss a matter that relates to a case involving a foreign diplomat," the spokesperson says. "These matters are handled through government-to-government channels.

According to the webpage of the Equatorial Guinea Embassy, Ambassador Nsue presented his credentials to President Obama in September 2013. He is a former Minister of Justice and Religion in Equatorial Guinea.

The United States is obligated by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to extend criminal and civil immunity to certain individuals in the diplomatic community. U.S. diplomats posted in foreign nations are similarly entitled to immunity from local prosecution.

According to guidance provided to law enforcement by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, "Diplomatic immunity is one of the oldest elements of foreign relations. Ancient Greek and Roman governments, for example, accorded special status to envoys."

It's not unusual for a diplomat involved in serious legal trouble to be recalled by his country. Governments can also waive diplomatic immunity and allow their citizens to be prosecuted by local jurisdictions.

In 1997, Gueorgui Makharadze was sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison for the drunken driving death of a Maryland teenager in Washington. He had been a diplomat representing the Republic of Georgia.

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