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Pakistan ambassador in assault row

From CNN U.N. Producer Liz Neisloss and Producer Ronni Berke


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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United States has given Pakistan until Friday to decide whether it will waive the diplomatic immunity of its U.N. ambassador, Munir Akram, so that he can be prosecuted on domestic violence charges.

Reached by phone at his residence, where he was spending the day, Akram declined to comment, saying, "My government is handling this. I prefer to leave it at that."

The charges stem from an early morning incident on December 10 in which Marijana Mihic, 35, told police that she and Akram had argued in an apartment, and he had tried to prevent her from leaving.

She described herself as Akram's girlfriend.

Police said Mihic had a bruise on her head and minor abrasions on her knees.

Because of the ambassador's diplomatic status, police were unable to arrest Akram.

A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney said if diplomatic immunity were lifted, "We would be prepared to arrest" the ambassador.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani mission is trying to downplay the incident, calling it a "momentary misunderstanding."

"No charges were filed, and no charges have been filed," said Mansoor Suhail, a spokesman for Akram.

"The ambassador as well as his friend both strongly believe there is no basis for any legal action.

The whole thing is being blown out of proportion. It was a telephone call and as soon as the police arrived, she said, 'Sorry, I don't want to file charges.'"

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said it is conducting an inquiry into the incident.



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