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article imageEgyptian ambassador slaps police officer at Larnaca airport

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By Anne Sewell     Jan 6, 2013 in World
Larnaca - The moment was caught on CCTV as the Egyptian Ambassador to Cyprus slapped a police officer at Larnaca Airport, Cyprus, due to verbal and physical humiliation by airport security.
Apparently local authorities have taken the blame for the highly embarrassing incident and have admitted the bad behavior of their security staff.
In the video, Menha Mahrous Bakhoum, Egypt's ambassador to Cyprus, can be seen shouting at, and then slapping, one of the police officers. Bakhoum claims that she had been subjected to both verbal and physical humiliation by the airport security, despite her diplomatic status.
According to Cyprus Mail, Bakhoum was at the airport to see her daughter off on a trip, when a female officer asked her to remove her boots. When the ambassador refused to do so, this provoked a dispute, resulting in the slapping of the officer. She was then dragged by a group of male officers into a separate room. Bakhoum reportedly grabbed the wig of a senior officer when protesting her detention.
The newspaper reports that Cyprus Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis has officially apologized to the Egyptian ambassador for the unnecessary and bad behavior of the security personnel.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses publicly and sincerely its regrets and apologizes for the treatment of the ambassador, which was not in conformity with the principle of inviolability of the person and respect of diplomatic representatives,” Marcoullis said in a statement.
However, even though the officers are at fault when they manhandled and detained the ambassador, who has diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, Police Association head Andreas Symeou has argued that the government was wrong to apologize for the actions of the officers.
He claims that the police were right to react as they did, after Bakhoum slapped the officer. He says that up until that point, Bakhoum had yet to show her diplomatic ID to prove her immunity.
“First of all, we disapprove of the ambassador’s behavior. What message do we send, when we as a state apologize to any lady who broke the law, regardless of her immunity. And we ask, if our ambassador did the same in Egypt where they would be now?” asked Symeou.
“Until she showed her ID to prove she is an ambassador, the officer on duty did what he had to do... But we disagree with the apology. Just because someone has diplomatic immunity it doesn’t mean they should go around hitting police officers because they want to,” he said.
According to EU airport regulations, only a few heads of states and governments can pass beyond security checks. Apparently diplomats and even Cabinet ministers have to go through regular security scrutinies just like everybody else.
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