Ethiopian diplomat dodges assault charges for shooting at Embassy in D.C.

Addis Ababa declined to waive the immunity of a diplomat charged in connection with a shooting during the storming of Ethiopia’s Embassy in Washington D.C. this week. According to a Spokesperson of the United States’ Department of State, Ethiopia refused to waive immunity and that the diplomat has left United States.

The Ethiopian diplomat, later identified as Solomon Tadesse G. Silasse, security attaché of the Ethio­pian Embassy, is believed to have fired a gun on Monday when a group of men forced their way into the Embassy in Washington D.C. A footage of the incident, captured b mobile phone, shows the group encircling and taunting the man yelling “shoot!”, “traitor!”, “thief!” and other pejorative words. Solomon is seen waving his pistol – in an apparent attempt to dissuade the men – as he retreats to an office door of the Embassy. Gun-shots are heard seconds before he retreats into an office.Police line in Washington D.C. Ethiopian Embassy

Subsequently, the men took down the Ethiopian flag in the compound and occupied an office of the Embassy for a few minted until local police arrived and cleared the area, according to another cell phone video. The Uniformed division of the Secret Service questioned Solomon and the men involved in the storming of the Embassy, but made no arrests. Media reports indicated the police found a bullet hole on a nearby car and on a tree.

Solomon is charged with “assault with intent to kill”, the Washington Post reported today citing a the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

However, American law enforcement officers will not be able to interrogate and prosecute Solomon, as the government of Ethiopia rejected the request to permit his prosecution in U.S. courts, according to the State Department.

State Department’s Spokesperson did not clarify whether not certain whether Solomon has been listed as persona non grata or not and whether he will be able to return to the United States or not.

She was also unable to provide information regarding an investigation concerning the men who stormed the Embassy.

Read the transcript of the briefing below:

United States’ Department of State
Jen Psaki –
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 2, 2014

QUESTION: Do you have any new information about the Ethiopian Embassy incident investigation?

MS. PSAKI: I do have a little bit of new information. Let’s see here. So obviously, the Secret Service and other divisions of government remain the point, but in general, where diplomats are involved in alleged criminal acts and the prosecutor’s office informs the State Department that it would prosecute but for immunity, the Department requests that the government of the diplomat waive his or her diplomatic immunity to permit prosecution in U.S. courts. If the government declines to waive immunity, the State Department requires the diplomat to depart the United States.

In this case, we requested a waiver of immunity to permit prosecution of the individual involved in that incident. The request was declined, and the individual involved has now left the country.

QUESTION: And can you just – because I don’t think you had the details the day that the incident actually happened. Although it’s been widely reported, it would be nice if you could actually confirm that the incident for which you requested the waiver of immunity so as to enable prosecution involved an Ethiopian national with diplomatic immunity discharging his firearm. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: It did involve an Ethiopian diplomat. I don’t have any other details on the specifics of the case.

QUESTION: You can’t even say it involved firing a gun?

MS. PSAKI: It’s been widely reported, and I think law enforcement agencies are confirming some of the details.

QUESTION: Technically, does that mean that this person has been PNG’d, or is it just that they – you asked them to leave and they will leave and they are leaving —

MS. PSAKI: They have left. They’re gone.

QUESTION: Have they been PNG’d? Are they allowed back into the country for any reason, other than to face the charge?

MS. PSAKI: Typically not.

QUESTION: Do you know in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I will double-check, but typically not.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Is there also an investigation concerning the protestors who are out near the embassy, trespassing, or anything along that line?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the U.S. Secret Service on that. That would not be the State Department.

All right. Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.


Daniel Berhane

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