A Saudi diplomat to India accused of holding his two Nepali domestic helpers captive and repeatedly raping and abusing them in his New Delhi luxury apartment left the country Wednesday under diplomatic immunity.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said that Majed Hassan Ashoor, “who is allegedly accused of abusing two Nepali maids has left India,” according to the Guardian. Swarup said he was protected by the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, which affords diplomats and their family members a high degree of legal protection in countries where they are posted.
Ashoor’s residence in the northern city of Gurgaon was raided by Indian police last weekend. Authorities reportedly found two Nepali women employed as maids, who alleged that they had been held there against their will, denied food and water and been repeatedly beaten and raped for a period of at least 15 days.
Riyadh lashed out against the accusations, with the embassy in India describing the accusations as “completely baseless” and lodged an official complaint about the apartment raid, which they said was a breach of diplomatic privilege
The police investigation came to a halt when police found that Ashoor had left the apartment and was apparently staying at the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi, which denied access to Gurgaon police.
Sources told the Indian Express that Ashoor was a senior diplomat who held additional charges at the Saudi Ambassador’s Office. Until the recent accusations, Ashoor’s wife and three children reportedly lived with him.
Meanwhile, Nepal praised India’s actions. “Gurgaon police has done a very wonderful job and the MEA is also cooperating. And we have very friendly relations with Saudi government also,” Nepal’s ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay said, according to the Indian Express. “Nepal and Saudi Arabia have good relations — that’s why we are hopeful that it would be amicably settled and the victims will get justice.”
Nepali police, meanwhile, arrested the daughter-in-law of one of the maids who leveled the accusations, claiming that she was responsible for trafficking them. “The woman and her brother are responsible for trafficking both victims and selling them to their contacts in Delhi for Rs 100,000 ($940) each,” Nepali police spokesman Kiran Bajracharya told the Hindustan Times. Her brother was also reportedly arrested.
Workers from an unnamed NGO told the Guardian that both women came from rural parts of Nepal, and were sent to Saudi Arabia to work as domestic help work before they traveled to New Delhi with their new employer. Medical examinations of the women leaked to local media seemed to support the women’s claims.