Iraq summons its envoy to Portugal over teenager assault

The Iraqi foreign ministry summoned its ambassador to Portugal after his twin sons were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a 15-year-old boy

Published: Updated:

The Iraqi foreign ministry has summoned its ambassador to Portugal after the envoy’s twin sons were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a 15-year-old boy, a spokesman said Tuesday.

“The ministry of foreign affairs has summoned the Iraqi ambassador to Portugal to discuss the incident his sons are accused of,” Ahmad Jamal said.

The incident happened last week in Ponte de Sor, central Portugal, following a brawl between locals and pupils at a nearby flight school where one of the twins is enrolled, according to Portuguese media.

A source close to the investigation said the 17-year-old sons of the Iraqi ambassador in Lisbon, Saad Mohamed Ridha, were arrested but then released because they had diplomatic immunity.

The boy suffered a fractured skull and other extensive injuries and has been placed in an artificial coma, local media said.

The foreign ministry also said it was following the case “with close concern” and had launched a probe to gather “details concerning this incident and gather information from mass media.”

The foreign ministry said it was keen to maintain “its good reputation” and the solid relations it enjoys with Portugal.

Portugal’s foreign minister says the alleged beating of the boy is “extremely serious.”

Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said in a television interview late Monday that Portugal may ask for the diplomatic immunity of the ambassador’s 17-year-old twin sons to be lifted if prosecutors decide to bring charges.

Local emergency services said the boy had multiple facial fractures and was evacuated to a Lisbon hospital by helicopter. The incident has brought an outcry in Portugal.

A statement published on the website of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said the sons of Ambassador Saad Mohammed Ridha were victims of “a heavy beating” by six people at a restaurant in the town, with one of the pair suffering a broken nose and rib. It alleged the group “cursed” the diplomat’s sons “because they were Arabs and Muslims.” The ambassador has filed a complaint with local police, the statement said.

The Iraqi boys gave an interview to Portuguese television channel SIC, with brief excerpts broadcast Tuesday. They indicated they had been involved in an altercation with a group of local youths at a bar earlier in the evening. They said they haven’t claimed diplomatic immunity and have cooperated with the police investigation.

The excerpts did not feature a direct question about whether the pair had attacked the Portuguese boy. The brothers had no visible injuries.

A woman who answered the phone at the Iraqi embassy said no information would be provided about the matter because it was being handled between the embassy and the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. She declined to provide further information and refused to give her name.