Police detain member of Saudi consulate
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A member of the Saudi Arabian consulate was briefly detained by Aspen police Friday after an altercation over a taxi.
The man was contacted by police around 2:30 a.m. Friday when officers spotted him hitting a man attempting to get into a taxi in front of the Wheeler Opera House. The victim said the punch came after he asked a woman climbing into the taxi if he and his companions could share it. He said the woman’s male companion then slapped him.
Officers allegedly saw the victim hit the ground after the altercation.
The suspect was being transported to the Pitkin County Jail when officers learned of his connection to the Saudi Arabian consulate. Sgt. Steve Smith said while the man was briefly detained, officers contacted State Department officials and told them of the incident.
“If he’s arrested or detained by police, we have to notify the State Department,” he said.
Department officials will forward the information to the Saudi Arabian embassy for processing, Smith said. If the man has not been granted diplomatic immunity by the embassy, he can be charged.
“Once it’s waived, it basically clears us locally to charge him,” Smith said.
But the person he allegedly struck did not want to press charges. Since a victim’s request is necessary to bring a more serious charge against a suspect, police may be left with only a charge of disorderly conduct.
The man’s actual position with the consulate was unclear last night. Smith said the man was not protecting the woman in the taxi when the altercation began. The man is likely “more along the lines of service staff or technical staff,” he said.
As the man was never officially arrested, Aspen police cannot release his name, Smith said. He remained in police custody for less than an hour.
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