NEW DELHI -- A Saudi Arabian diplomat accused of repeatedly raping and abusing two Nepalese maids has left India under cover of diplomatic immunity, while Nepal on Thursday called for justice for the women.
India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup identified the diplomat as Majed Hassan Ashoor, the first secretary at the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi. The statement late Wednesday said Ashoor, "who is allegedly accused of abusing two Nepali maids, has left India."
It gave no details on how the diplomat left the country, but said "the first secretary, being a diplomat, is governed by the provisions of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations."
The two Nepalese, working as maids in the diplomat's luxury apartment, have accused him of illegally confining and raping them during the past few months.
Police removed the women from the apartment last week after receiving a complaint from a non-governmental organization. They have since returned to Nepal.
Although a case was registered against the diplomat, police could not act against him because of diplomatic immunity. Under the Vienna Convention, diplomats cannot be arrested or face criminal prosecution in the country where they are posted.
The Saudi Embassy has denied the allegations against the diplomat, and refused to let police question him.
An Indian official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media, said Saudi Arabia decided to withdraw the diplomat and his family.
The Nepalese ambassador in New Delhi, Deep Upadhyay, told reporters that the case should be pursued even if the diplomat had left the country. "The victims must get justice," he said Thursday.
Police in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, said they were investigating the case and had arrested several people involved in the trafficking of poor women to work as maids in India and other countries.
Since the allegations became public last week, India has been treading carefully on the matter. Nepal is India's neighbor and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been trying to deepen ties with the Himalayan nation that is also being wooed by its other giant neighbor, China.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia is India's second-biggest oil supplier and close to 2 million Indians working in the Gulf kingdom send a large chunk of remittances back home.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency on Thursday did not immediately report on the rape allegations facing Ashoor. Government officials also made no immediate statement about the case.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world's largest employers of domestic workers, many coming from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Nepal. Some work as live-in maids seven days a week without time off. Others suffer physical and sexual abuse.
Facing international criticism, the Saudi government has eased the process for domestic workers to file complaints against their recruiters and employers. However, workers remain bound by the kingdom's "kafala" system, which ties their legal status to a sponsoring employer, and can require an employer's written permission before a worker changes jobs or leaves the country.