Mar 3, 2010

Man alleges condo attack by diplomat

Magistrate directs police to investigate complaint against Saudi official

By K. C. Vijayan, Law Correspondent

POLICE have been directed to investigate an alleged assault by a Saudi Arabian Embassy official on a condominium resident.

Mr A. Jaafar, 37, a senior executive, alleged that the Third Secretary of the Saudi Arabian Embassy here, Mr Bader I.F. Al-Balawi, attacked him when he told him not to park at a space reserved for the handicapped at Glendale Park condominium in Hillview Avenue.

He filed a Magistrate's Complaint against the embassy official, and yesterday, a magistrate ruled that the complaint was serious enough to warrant an investigation by the police.

He directed the police to look into the case and inform the court of the outcome.

According to court documents, Mr Jaafar said the alleged assault happened on Jan 9 at about 4.45pm.

He had approached Mr Bader at the condominium carpark after seeing his vehicle occupying a space meant for the handicapped.

He claimed that he had seen the same car parked at the space - which was right next to the ground floor lift lobby of a block at the condominium - on two previous occasions.

However, Mr Bader allegedly responded by shouting at Mr Jaafar and hurling verbal abuse at him.

Mr Jaafar claimed he walked away as Mr Bader appeared hostile.

But as he walked towards the nearby guard house, he felt someone elbow him at the back of his head.

'I fell forward. As I was still on the ground, Mr Bader kicked me several times in the ribs and stomach area,' he said.

He was taken to the National University Hospital for several injuries including those to his head, forearms and knees, but was discharged on the same day.

Mr Jaafar also got his lawyer, Mr Mark Goh, to send a letter to Mr Bader at the Saudi embassy to ask for compensation.

While Mr Bader acknowledged he received the hand-delivered letter, he did not respond to the request.

The Saudi Arabian Embassy did not respond to repeated queries from The Straits Times over several days.

Mr Goh, however, said the bid to seek legal redress may prove to be moot because Mr Bader may have diplomatic immunity, which exempts him from any criminal probe or civil suits in relation to the alleged assault.

Mr Bader ranks third in the hierarchy of the Saudi embassy here, according to the embassy's website.

Mr Goh said: 'I have spoken to the police investigating officer in the case who told me that preliminary investigations show that Mr Bader does enjoy diplomatic immunity.'

Even so, Mr Jaafar is prepared to 'pursue the matter'.

'I am doing this because I expect to be protected by the law,' he said.

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