Diplomat accused of injuring officer returns home

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Russia rejected a U.S. request to waive the immunity of a diplomat accused of hitting a New York City police officer while driving drunk, and sent him back to Moscow instead, officials said Wednesday.

The United Nations diplomat, Ilya Morozov, returned home Tuesday evening, hours after the U.S. sent a letter formally asking that his diplomatic immunity be waived so he could face charges, the United States and Russia said.

Russian mission spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday that Russia never received any official documentation about the incident and had no choice but to send Morozov home in the face of the U.S. request.

The accident occurred Saturday night, when Morozov’s car allegedly hit a police officer after swerving around traffic cones set up for construction on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, the main highway on the east side of Manhattan.

The officer, whose name was not released, suffered minor injuries to his knees and was in stable condition, police said. Morozov was issued seven traffic tickets for violations that included speeding, driving drunk, and driving on a sidewalk.

Russia acknowledged Morozov’s car entered the construction area but said it never saw any official evidence the officer had been hit.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the United States would have preferred that Morozov be prosecuted, but acknowledged Moscow’s right not to waive his immunity. Bolton said the U.S. would have demanded he be sent home anyway.

“It’s not as good as prosecution but it would be significant in that he couldn’t come back to the United States,” Bolton said. “Although they weren’t prepared to waive diplomatic immunity, they know that we were serious and we would have expelled him.”

AP-ES-04-26-06 1729EDT

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