Twin sons of Iraqi ambassador to Portugal assault teenager and leave him in a coma – but are ‘protected by diplomatic immunity’

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says 'diplomatic actions may be considered' after the incident

The Iraqi Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal
The Iraqi Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal

The twin sons of Iraq’s ambassador to Portugal have been arrested on suspicion of carrying out a brutal attack on a 15-year-old boy – but the two teenagers may be protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity laws.

The boy, named locally as Rúben, is in a coma and is said to be fighting for his life after he was violently beaten in the town of Ponte de Sor in central Portugal on Wednesday.

He has had reconstructive surgery on his face, which was disfigured in the attack, and his prognosis is poor after suffering a head injury, according to Jornal de Noticias.

The incident allegedly followed an altercation at a bar in Ponte de Sor, where one of the 17-year-old twins is training to become a pilot at a nearby air base.

Police are investigating what caused the attack on Rúben, described by Jornal de Noticias as a “calm and tranquil” boy local to the area.

The brawl came to a violent end at around 4am in the centre of the town.

One of the twin brothers allegedly ran the victim over with a car registered to the Iraqi embassy and the other punched and kicked him on the ground, according to Algarve Daily News.

Witnesses are said to have reported the brothers to the police after they saw the car’s diplomatic plates.

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The victim was airlifted to a hospital in Lisbon where he remains in a critical condition. “Everything depends on the next 48 hours,” the victim’s stepfather Marco Silva told Sic News yesterday.

The twins were released from jail yesterday, reported Diario de Noticias.

As the two young men have diplomatic passports, they benefit from diplomatic immunity which exempts ambassadors and their families from prosecution, the police confirmed to the Lisbon-based newspaper.

The police will continue to investigate the case, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told Lusa News Agency that “diplomatic actions may be considered”.

This means the Iraqi ambassador, Saad Mohammed Ridha, could be expelled from his position for his son's actions.

According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a country can make any member of diplomatic staff from another state "persona non grata" at any time, without having to explain why.

“In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission,” states article 9 of the convention.

The student has since been expelled, the school wrote in a post on its Facebook page.

“An incident occurred in the early hours of 17 August in a bar brawl involved a student, who does not live on-campus,” said the post by G Air Training Centre.

“The actions of the student are intolerable and damages the good name of the school and all its students and staff [...] according to the school’s code of conduct, the expulsion process has been started for this student”.

The Independent has contacted the Iraqi embassy of Portugal who did not comment on the attack.

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