Suspended U.N. diplomat cites immunity in U.S. bribe case
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK Dec 15 (Reuters) - A suspended deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic has asked a U.S. judge to dismiss an indictment accusing him of participating in a bribery scheme, saying he has diplomatic immunity.
A lawyer for Francis Lorenzo, 48, filed papers in federal court in Manhattan late on Monday, asking U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick to dismiss charges including bribery and money laundering facing the diplomat.
He is one of six individuals facing charges in connection with an alleged scheme to pay more than $1.3 million in bribes to John Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda and onetime General Assembly president.
In the filing, Lorenzo's lawyer, Brian Bieber, cited Lorenzo's status as a deputy ambassador to the United Nations at the time of his Oct. 6 arrest and during the period of alleged wrongdoing in the indictment.
"As such, Lorenzo is protected from prosecution by virtue of his diplomatic agent immunity," Bieber wrote.
Lorenzo was suspended after the charges were announced.
Broderick ordered prosecutors on Tuesday to respond by Jan. 5. A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office is pursuing the charges, declined comment.
Prosecutors alleged that Ashe, 61, took more than $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, including billionaire Macau real estate developer Ng Lap Seng. Continuación...