Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 26, 2012

Newsline: Brazil sex worker may sue U.S. embassy over injuries

A former Brazilian prostitute plans to sue the United States embassy and five of its personnel for injuries sustained outside a strip club late last year, complicating the second of two embarrassing incidents to emerge recently involving American officials and sex workers in South America. Romilda Aparecida Ferreira, 31, and her lawyer said they plan to file suit for injuries, medical expenses, lost income, and psychological trauma after an embassy van ran over her and left her stranded in the club parking lot with a broken collarbone, punctured lung and other injuries. The incident occurred December 29 when an embassy driver was dispatched to the club to pick up three marines and one civilian staffer. A civil suit would compound a case in which Brazilian prosecutors have already said they are considering criminal charges, including assault and failure to provide assistance to an injured person. It also threatens to further tarnish the image of overseas U.S. personnel in the wake of a separate scandal involving U.S. Secret Service members and prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier this month. Little noticed at the time, the incident in Brasília, Brazil’s capital, gained traction this week when a local reporter asked U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, then on a visit to the country, about what happened. Panetta said the United States had investigated the matter, “severely punished” the marines, and pulled them out of Brazil. Few additional details from the incident have been provided by U.S. officials, including the nature of an unresolved offer Ferreira’s lawyers say was made by the embassy to compensate her in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement. Ferreira, who worked as a stripper at the club for three years, said she was traumatized by the incident, which kept her hospitalized for 12 days. Upon her release from the hospital, she said, embassy officials visited her to seek her account of the incident and then offered her nearly 4,000 reais ($2,100), which she rejected. Her lawyers said they then followed up with the embassy, but failed to reach an agreement on payment and a condition that would have required Ferreira to sign a non-disclosure agreement. A U.S. embassy spokesman confirmed there was an inconclusive discussion about compensation, but was unaware of the exact details.



Newsline: No Anthrax in Packets received by French Embassy in Indonesia

Jakarta police confirmed that the two envelopes received by two staff members of the French Embassy in Jakarta did not contain Anthrax. “The two employees can now perform their daily routines,” said the Jakarta Police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Rikwanto. The police are also tracing the sender by checking postal stamps whether they are real or fake. Yesterday it said that the envelopes only mentioned the addressees, although today, Rikwanto corrected that they have US postal stamps. “We are also investigating the motive, whether it’s personal or it is related to the institution,” he added. On Monday, April 23, 2012, at around 19.30 pm, the French Embassy in Jakarta received envelopes suspected to be containing Anthrax powder. The two envelopes were addressed to two French national embassy staffers named Fabien and Ghaillan. Only the writing ‘Anthrax’ was found in the envelopes. Anthrax bacteria can cause damage to human nerves and tissues, bleeding and even death. The bacteria can spread via direct contact via air or with skin.


Newsline: Indonesian embassy seen as negligent in organ case

New autopsies will be performed on three migrant workers who were killed in Malaysia. The new autopsies will seek to answer if the organs of the three men were removed before the bodies were returned to Indonesia, as their families have alleged. The three men — Herman, Abdul Kadir Jaelani and Mad Noon, all from East Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, went to Malaysia in the middle of 2010 for work. They were found dead on March 23 near a lake in Malaysia with gunshot wounds. But family members who saw the bodies back in Indonesia quickly raised concerns that the organs had been harvested. The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur didn’t crosscheck the causes of death. The bodies were returned home on April 5 and were buried the next day. Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa formed a team on Tuesday to investigate the deaths and the allegations of organ harvesting.


Newsline: US Embassy raises alarm on visa syndicate in Nigeria

The United States Embassy in Abuja raised the alarm on the activities of a syndicate, it said specialises in selling appointments for visa interviews in Nigeria. A Vice-Consul in the Embassy, Nadine Johnson, who spoke at the monthly briefing at the US Embassy, urged the public to assist in crushing the syndicate. She said the embassy is concerned about the existence of such syndicate in Nigeria, adding that it was doing everything possible to deal with the situation. Johnson said: “We do not charge extra cash apart from the $160 fee. People may try to buy up the appointments but we don’t encourage them to do that.” “It is not our system at all, they (people) should never pay extra for it. The system is free apart from the $160 fees. “Now that this has been brought to our attention, we are working to ensure that an appointment made is for the passport number that is given, we are trying to get that clarified,” she added