Police yet to arrest French official

Police yet to arrest French official

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday asserted that Pascal Mazurier, a French consular officer facing charges of sexually assaulting his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, will have to face prosecution as per Indian laws as he did not enjoy diplomatic immunity.

But the State police are yet to detain the consulate agent, as they have not received the official communication from the union ministry. The MHA’s views came on the same day that the French Consulate General refused to interfere in the case. The consulate said in an official statement that Mazurier did not enjoy diplomatic immunity, and being only a consular agent, he did not even possess a diplomatic passport.

The French embassy’s website, explaining the level of immunity officials of Mazurier’s rank have, states: “...Liable to arrest or detention in the case of grave crime, in execution of a judicial decision. Imprisonment in execution of a judicial decision of final effect.”

Th clarification from the embassy and the MHA might prod the local police, unable to make any progress with the investigation, to arrest the French official. Raghvendra Auradkar, Home Sceretary (Karnataka), while maintaining that the State is yet to receive an official communication from the MHA, said: “Once we receive a (formal) communication, the police would proceed further with the investigation and probably arrest the suspect (Pascal).”

The delay in getting clarity over whether or not the French official enjoys diplomatic immunity has already had its effect on the course of investigation, as the police are yet to file a charge-sheet. What has prevented the police from filing a charge-sheet is their inability to even question the suspect named in the first information report (FIR) and the complaint.

The MHA said it is likely to advise the Karnataka government to proceed ahead with the case against Mazurier under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, provisions of the Vienna Convention prevent the police from entering a consulate, and they will have to write to the French consulate seeking access to the official.

The consulate in Bangalore, through an official communique, said it was fully co-operating with the police and  the authorities in-charge. Refusing to interfere in the case, the consulate said it “has been informed that a complaint has been lodged regarding the rape of a minor girl who is a French National. The complaint names the father of the child, who is a consular agent of this Consulate-General.”

It further added that is also in touch with the family of the child.

The official’s Indian wife Suja Jones had written letters to MHA and MEA requesting them to ensure that Mazurier does not escape from the country and that he should face the trial here.

L R Pachau, DG&IGP, Karnataka said: “Though there are some reports that the person in question does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, we are waiting for an official communication from the Centre. Once they give a go ahead, the case would be treated as any other case and the person tried as per the law of the land.”

26 child right activists held

Hours before the MHA made its views on the matter public, around 26 child rights activists in Bangalore protested in front of the French Consulate here demanding the arrest of Pascal Mazurier.
However, the police arrested the activists as they had not taken permission to stage a protest and have registered an FIR under various sections against all the activists. The activists were released later.

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