Saudi diplomat accused of rape leaves India

Two veiled Nepali women, who told police they were raped by a Saudi official, walk outside Nepal's embassy in New Delhi, India, September 9, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The women were rescued from an apartment in the Gurgaon suburb of Delhi last week

A Saudi diplomat accused of raping two Nepali women hired to work as domestic help has left India under diplomatic immunity, the foreign ministry says.

The women, aged 30 and 50, said they were starved and sexually abused by him and other Saudi nationals.

Saudi Arabia denies all the charges and refused to revoke diplomatic immunity for the official, making it impossible for him to be tried in India.

Analysts say his departure resolves a diplomatic dilemma for India.

Nepal and India have close diplomatic relations, but India is also eager to avoid tensions with oil-rich Saudi Arabia where millions of Indians live and work.

'Abused every day'

On Wednesday night, foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup issued a statement saying First Secretary Majed Hassan Ashoor "who is allegedly accused of abusing two Nepali maids has left India". He added that the official was protected under the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations.

Police in India had earlier registered a case of rape, sodomy and illegal confinement against the official, without naming him.

The women were rescued from an apartment in the Gurgaon suburb of Delhi last week after a tip-off from an NGO. They are alleged to have been abused over a period of several months.

"We thought we would die there," one of the women told the AFP news agency, adding that they were abused every day.

They said the apartment was in a high-rise and there was no way they could run away.

The two women returned to Nepal last week.

Thousands of men and women from Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries, travel to India and other Asian and Arab states every year to seek work as domestic helpers and labourers.

The Saudi embassy refused to let the diplomat be questioned and Saudi media complained about "police intrusion" in his property.