According to reports from The Hill and ESAT television an Ethiopian man who allegedly fired a gun during a protest this week at the Ethiopian embassy in Washington, D.C., has left the United States to escape prosecution.
The State Department on Thursday confirmed that it had asked Ethiopia to waive the diplomat’s immunity so he could be prosecuted in U.S. courts, which was refused.
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“In this case, we requested a waiver of immunity to permit prosecution of the individual involved in that incident,” State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said. “The request was declined and the individual involved has now left the country.”
Diplomats are expelled from the United States when their host country declines to waive diplomatic immunity.
Psaki, who did not identify the diplomat, said once expelled, individuals typically are not allowed back to the U.S. for any other reason but prosecution.
Reports from ESAT tv identified the man as Solomon Tadesse Gebreselassie, aka Wedi Woyni, who was the security chief at the embassy. The report also noted he was given 48 hours to leave the United States in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunity.
The Secret Service responded to reports of a gunshot at the Ethiopian Embassy compound on Monday and detained an individual believed to have fired the shot.
No injuries were reported from the incident, which was partially caught on camera with a man in a black suit wielding a handgun amid a small crowd of people before the gunshot is heard.
Sources told ESAT that the gunman took Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET501, on Wednesday, October 1, at 11:15 AM (EST) from Washington Dulles International Airport. The Boeing 777-200LR carrying Mr. Gebresellasie landed in Addis Ababa after a 12-hour direct flight on Thursday October 2, at 06:45 am local time.
Reuters reported the man turned himself into authorities but he was not arrested because of his diplomatic immunity.