Iraq voices regret over diplomat's sexual abuse case

The Iraqi government on Wednesday expressed regret over the recent sexual harassment of a local woman by one of the diplomats at its Seoul embassy, vowing to take stern measures against him.

According to Seoul's Yongsan Police Station, the Iraqi diplomat, identified only by the initial M of his surname, was briefly detained by police here on April 1 on suspicion of forcibly kissing a 52-year-old South Korean woman and making her grope him inside an elevator at their apartment building in the multicultural district of Itaewon.

"Upon the summons by the Iraqi government following the incident, the diplomat returned home on April 7," said an official of his country's embassy in Seoul.

Expressing strong regret over his behavior, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry "will deal seriously with this unacceptable behavior, and will take strict legal deterrent actions against the perpetrator," the embassy said in a statement.

On the day of the incident, the diplomat expressed his willingness to undergo a police investigation though he enjoys diplomatic immunity. But the case was closed as the victim did not want to press charges, police officers said.

Under South Korean criminal law, sexual harassment is categorized as an offense that cannot be prosecuted without a complaint by the victim.