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Ambassador recalled after wife throws caution to the wind, assaults store clerk over shoplifting allegation

Belgium authorities said the diplomat can’t perform his duties in a “serene” manner after his wife was accused of assaulting two clothing store workers, according to a report monitored by Persecondnews.

Belgian Amb. Lescouhier and Wife Xiang

An ambassador’s wife brawl at a public store over allegation of shoplifting has cost her husband his job as he is being recalled by the home country.

Belgium’s Ambassador to South Korea, Amb. Peter Lescouhier, who has spent three years, is to pack his bag and baggage and come back home on the account of the wife’s indecency.

Belgium authorities said the diplomat can’t perform his duties in a “serene” manner after his wife was accused of assaulting two clothing store workers, according to a report monitored by Persecondnews.

“It has however become clear that the current situation doesn’t allow him to further carry out his role in a serene way,’’ the foreign ministry said.

Surveillance video of the incident sparked public outrage after it was broadcast on national television in Korea.

Camera Footage showing the assault

The authorities also said they are waiving diplomatic immunity for Lescouhier’s wife, Xiang Xueqiu. She said she would invoke that privilege earlier this month, to avoid potential charges.

However, the diplomat’s recall from South Korea will take place this summer, after Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès decided it is in the best interests of both countries to end his tenure.

The Belgian embassy says it’s waiving Xiang’s immunity “based on the request of the police.” But citing South Korea’s foreign ministry, the Yonhap news agency says the waiver is only partial — a move that allows Xiang’s cooperation, rather than exposing her to potential charges and prosecution.

The controversy erupted in early April, when Xiang left a store in Seoul after trying on some items.

A staff member followed her out, suspecting her of shoplifting by wearing some of the store’s clothes. As they spoke, Xiang followed the woman back inside the store, demanding to speak to a manager.

Assault Victim

Store cameras recorded a heated discussion in the shop’s office, in which a woman — apparently Xiang — is seen pushing two employees and slapping one of the women in the face as the woman tried to stand between the other two. Photos of that employee showed her displaying a red, swollen cheek.

Weeks after the encounter, Lescouhier issued a public apology on behalf of his wife.

“No matter the circumstances, the way she reacted is unacceptable,” the diplomat said of his wife’s behavior.

In that message, Lescouhier also said that on the same day he learned of a police investigation into the incident, his wife was hospitalized — reportedly after suffering a stroke.

Belgium is ending its ambassador’s posting to South Korea, after his wife was seen on video allegedly slapping a clothing store employee. Here, a man walks past the Belgium Embassy in Seoul on Monday.

Xiang has cooperated with police and has met privately with the two employees to apologize, the Belgian embassy in Seoul says, adding that her health concerns had delayed those steps.

Diplomatic immunity for spouses has also made headlines in the U.S. in recent years, after the wife of a U.S. diplomat fled the UK after a fatal car crash in 2019.

The U.S. refused to hand over Anne Sacoolas, despite requests from Britain. Last summer, the two countries reworked their diplomatic immunity agreement to make it more difficult for diplomats’ relatives to claim immunity from prosecution.

READ ALSO: Views From Abroad: Nigeria Is a Failed State by Robert Rotberg

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Written by Per Second News

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