Papua New Guinea Recalls Envoy in Car Crash That Injured American

Associated Press

Papua New Guinea has recalled its ambassador to the United States after he was involved in an automobile accident in which a Virginia man was critically injured, a State Department official said Friday.

"He will be leaving as soon as travel arrangements can be finalized," department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said.

Ambassador Kiatro O. Abisinito, 32, informed the department in a letter dated Wednesday that he would leave the United States by next Tuesday on orders from his government.

"I truly regret that I shall not have the opportunity to remain in this country long enough to see to it personally that the damage caused by this incident is settled," Abisinito said in a letter to James E. Nolan, director of the Office of Foreign Missions.

The ambassador said he viewed the Feb. 13 accident with "utmost concern" and prayed for the speedy recovery of Stephen Hagan, a desk assistant at ABC radio.

Hagan, 26, was seriously injured when an embassy car driven by Abisinito struck four vehicles, including one in which Hagan was sitting. State Department officials, who said Abisinito had been drinking, revoked his driver's permit.

Hagan was listed in fair condition Friday at Georgetown University Hospital. A woman injured in the accident was not hurt seriously.

The ambassador was charged with failing "to pay full time and attention" to driving, but he could not be brought to trial for the offense, which carries a $100 fine, because of diplomatic immunity.

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