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International relations

Indonesia apologizes over manhandling of Nigerian diplomat

Video showing immigration officials pinning man down spreads widely on social media

Motorists ride past the Nigerian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia on Aug. 12. Indonesia's Foreign Ministry apologized Thursday for the manhandling of a Nigerian diplomat and announced it had launched a formal investigation of the incident.    © AP

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Indonesia's Foreign Ministry apologized Thursday for the manhandling of a Nigerian diplomat and announced it had launched a formal investigation of the incident.

Nigeria earlier this week recalled its ambassador to Indonesia and summoned Indonesia's ambassador in Abuja for talks after a leaked video of Saturday's incident went viral on social media and prompted outrage.

The video shows three Indonesian immigration officials pinning the diplomat, whose name has not been released, into the back seat of a moving vehicle. One immigration official holds the diplomat's arm and another pushes on his head as the man screams "I can't breathe" and "my neck, my neck."

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah told reporters that there had been multiple meetings with Nigerian officials since the incident, including discussions with the ambassador in Jakarta on Wednesday.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regrets the incident on August 7th," Faizasyah said. "This is an isolated incident, and is in no way related to the commitment of the Indonesian government in carrying out its obligations as host country or in accordance with the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations."

He said that the incident had been investigated by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, which oversees immigration authorities, but did not give any details of the results and did not take any questions.

Nigeria on Tuesday issued a statement expressing "outrage" over the incident, saying the government "condemns in the strongest terms what is, in effect, an egregious act of international delinquency."

The Nigerian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Indonesian ambassador to "protest strongly," and had recalled its ambassador to Indonesia for consultations, "including a review of bilateral relations."

It was not clear whether Ambassador Usman Ogah ever left Indonesia, however, as the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said he was present in person for the talks in Jakarta on Wednesday.

According to Indonesian authorities, the diplomat was picked up by immigration officers after they received a tip about a group of foreign nationals whose residence permits had expired.

The diplomat was uncooperative and refused to turn over his documents when confronted in the lobby of an apartment building, so was taken into custody, according to Ibnu Chuldun, the head of the Jakarta branch of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, which handles immigration issues.

In the car, the man was held down after he attacked immigration officials, Chuldun alleged in a statement following the incident.

Only after being questioned at the local immigration office did the man say he was a diplomat and produce his identity documents, he said.

Chuldun said the incident was settled "amicably" the same day after the Nigerian ambassador personally came to the immigration office to intervene.

"Both parties acknowledged that there had been a misunderstanding and agreed to make peace," Chuldun said.

The diplomatic moves from Nigeria that followed, however, suggest that the matter was not entirely resolved.

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