Charles Imene Oliha, a South Sudan attaché to the United Nations (UN), has fled America after a rape accusation.
The 46-year-old is a career diplomat at his nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
He was arrested at the start of the week for sexual assault of one of his neighbours in Upper Manhattan in New York.
But Oliha was released hours after due to diplomatic immunity, a development that triggered local and international condemnation.
The victim informed the police that she and the diplomat stayed in the same apartment at Wadsworth Terrace in Fort George, New York City.
The yet-to-be named female narrated how the South Sudanese followed her to her home after she took a dog on a walk.
The 24-year-old recalled Oliha mentioning he wanted to follow her upstairs. “No, you’re not”, she replied. The diplomat later allegedly forced his way into her home.
“The woman reported that the intruder pinned her against a wall and raped her using a condom before raping her again on the couch without a condom”, the Police were quoted.
The lady went to New York-Presbyterian Hospital at Washington Heights for medicals after she lodged a complaint with 911.
Oliha, who was taken into custody Sunday night and freed Monday morning, fled upon release. The South Sudanese embassy confirmed he was not reachable.
Jane Manning, Women’s Equal Justice director told New York Post it was disturbing that someone accused of rape cannot be held accountable.
“I hope that the NYPD detectives will still do a full and thorough investigation to establish what the evidence shows”, the ex-sex crimes prosecutor added.
NYPD deputy commissioner Julian Phillips said the “state department matter…remains an ongoing investigation”.
New York City mayor Eric Adams stated that “sexual assault of any kind should never be tolerated”.
UN secretary general spokesman Stéphane Dujarric agreed that any case of alleged sexual assault needs to be fully investigated.
“This particular case involves a member of the Permanent Mission of South Sudan who is not a staff member of the United Nations.”
Dujarric called the case a bilateral issue between South Sudan and the US authorities, adding that the world body will follow the situation.
Oliha reportedly returned to South Sudan on Thursday; activists and organizations are calling for his extradition to the United States to face charges.
In a statement on Friday, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Oliha has been recalled and placed on suspension.
The government explained that the decision was taken “pending a full investigation from a specialized committee”.
“It is with regret that our diplomat was involved with an alleged rape incident with one of New York City residents”, the office noted.
Oliha is known for his drinking behaviour. In July, Daily Mail posted a video of him lying on the street after drinking bottles of beer.