Belgian ambassador’s wife who slapped Seoul shop worker claims diplomatic immunity

·2-min read

Watch: Belgian envoy's wife 'slapped' S.Korea shopkeeper

The wife of the Belgian ambassador to South Korea has invoked diplomatic immunity to avoid charges over an incident where she slapped a shop assistant at a clothing store in Seoul last month.

In order to avoid being charged for assault, Peter Lescouhier’s wife Xiang Xueqiu intends to fall back on her diplomatic immunity — that allows diplomats and their family members to avoid arrest, detention or indictment in a host country, the police confirmed.

According to the Korea Times, the Belgian embassy sent a letter to the Yongsan Police Station invoking her rights. Ms Xiang, 63, shall not be prosecuted in South Korea now. The police said that they will now close the case as the invoking of her privileges makes it impossible for her to be tried in the host country.

The Belgian ambassador has officially apologised for his wife’s “unacceptable reaction” at the clothing store.

<p>Screengrab of a video showing the Belgian envoy’s wife slapping a shop assistant in Seoul</p> (YouTube/SCMP)

Screengrab of a video showing the Belgian envoy’s wife slapping a shop assistant in Seoul

(YouTube/SCMP)

CCTV footage had captured the moment when she slapped the assistant on 9 April at a clothing shop in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. She had spent almost an hour in the shop trying on clothes, after which a member of the store staff had followed her as she left the shop to make sure that the clothes were paid for.

When Ms Xiang was confronted, she pulled the employee’s arm and hit her in the head, moments which were captured on surveillance camera. When another employee tried to intervene, she slapped the staff member in the face.

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Police questioned her on 6 May, while the Belgian embassy told reporters that she had previously been hospitalised after suffering a stroke.

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The case received widespread attention and the ambassador’s wife faced mounting criticism. In a statement that was released on 22 April by the Belgian Embassy in Seoul, Mr Lescouhier said: “The Ambassador of Belgium sincerely regrets the incident involving his wife which happened on 9 April and wants to apologise on her behalf.” It added: “No matter the circumstances, the way she reacted is unacceptable.”

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