Sudan diplomat freed after sex abuse charge on New York subway

NEW YORK, Jan 10 (Reuters) - A Sudanese diplomat was arrested in New York City and charged with sexually rubbing up against a woman in a subway car but the charges were dropped and he was released because he had diplomatic immunity, police said on Tuesday.

Mohammad Abdalla Ali, 49, was riding a train out of the city's Grand Central Terminal on Monday afternoon when he approached a 38-year-old woman from behind and rubbed his crotch against her, New York Police Department spokeswoman Arlene Muniz said in a phone interview.

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Ali was brought to a precinct and charged with sexual abuse and forcible touching but those charges were later voided and he will not face prosecution, police said.

Representatives of Sudan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, where Ali is listed as finance attaché, could not immediately be reached for comment.

New York police said they had reported the incident involving Ali to the U.S. State Department. A spokesman at the State Department had no immediate comment.

The principle of diplomatic immunity generally restricts criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits against ambassadors and their staff, and it has been used to nullify charges ranging from abuse of domestic workers to parking violations. A tally in 2011 found that New York City was owed nearly $17 million in parking tickets issued to diplomats. (Reporting by David Ingram; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)