Disgraced Turkish diplomat removed from post in Taiwan: official

A Turkish diplomat involved in an alleged sexual harassment case in Taiwan will likely not face prosecution here because he was removed from his post at Turkey's representative office in Taipei, a Taiwanese official said Tuesday.

Chen Chun-shen (???), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of West Asian and African Affairs, said the Turkish government has notified Taiwan's representative office in Ankara of its decision to remove the official from his post in Taiwan and transfer him back to Turkey, given the controversy.

Halil Ibrahim Dokuyucu, deputy head of the Turkish Trade Office in Taipei, allegedly fondled a woman at a bar in Taipei's upscale Daan District on July 3 despite her protests, and got into a scuffle with the police who were called in after the incident.

During questioning at a police station in Taipei, Dokuyucu claimed he had diplomatic immunity.

When prosecutors asked the Foreign Ministry to confirm the claim, the ministry replied that neither Taiwanese officials based in Turkey nor Turkish officials based in Taiwan enjoyed immunity from criminal investigations under a bilateral agreement.

But given the severity of the case, the ministry felt it was necessary to verify the terms of the agreement and asked its office in Ankara to reconfirm whether Dokuyucu was protected from being investigated for the alleged offenses, the ministry has said.

As a result, prosecutors held off on pursuing a case against Dokuyucu, and when news of the case first surfaced publicly in August, he asked to take leave and left for Turkey on Aug. 18, the ministry said.

At the time, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry urged Dokuyucu to return to Taiwan to face an investigation as soon as possible. But Chen confirmed at Tuesday's news briefing that the disgraced diplomat will not return to Taiwan because he has been removed from the post.

Before Dokuyucu left, he apologized to the police and compensated the bar for the damage he caused, Chen said.

At the time of his departure, Dokuyucu was not listed as a wanted fugitive or a potential defendant in the case, Chen said.

The Foreign Ministry had also still not established whether he had diplomatic immunity or not, and it has been criticized for taking 53 days to confirm that Dokuyucu did not have diplomatic immunity when that should have been clear from the terms of the bilateral pact.

Chen said Taiwan's representative office in Ankara actively sought verification, but Turkish authorities never replied, largely due to a failed coup in the country in mid-July.

When the Foreign Ministry eventually informed prosecutors in late August that the diplomat did not have diplomatic immunity, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said it would investigate the allegations against Dokuyucu, including sexual harassment and obstruction of police officers in the discharge of their duties.

The woman in the harassment case, said to be a single mother who works as a project manager at a technology firm, has said she would press criminal charges against Dokuyucu and will seek NT$1 million (US$31,526) in damages.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel