PNG in embassy scandal in Belgium: report

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Impoverished Papua New Guinea's embassy in Belgium is caught in a row involving an employee who claims she was sexually harassed and denied pay by the diplomatic mission, a report said Friday.

Ambassador Peter Maginde has denied the Belgian woman's complaints, which include that she was unable to wear skirts or venture into his office unaccompanied, The National newspaper reported on its website.

Maginde told the Papua New Guinean paper the allegations were "absolutely false, without basis of evidence and there is no truth in it" and accused the woman of removing documents and a cheque book from the embassy.

He has reportedly hired a law firm to recover the items.

Papua New Guinea's foreign office acknowledged the dispute, the newspaper added, but said it had urged the ambassador to resolve the row independently. Repeated requests for comment from AFP went unanswered.

The woman, who has claimed she was also locked out of her office at the Brussels mission and had only taken documents home to continue her work, has written to officials in the Pacific island nation to voice her complaint.

The report said she had also written to Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state of PNG.

In correspondence quoted by the paper, she said Maginde "seems unwilling to understand his obligations in respect of the legislation of his hosting country -- despite the several reminders from the ... ministry of foreign affairs to backpay my salaries and social security payments".

"... his Majesty Albert II, King of Belgium, has requested two of his state ministers to take this matter into their hands," she added.

But Maginde said the woman had been told her performance was not up to expectations.

"So we warned her to improve and comply with all the required instructions," the ambassador was quoted as saying, adding the situation failed to improve and the woman's employment was terminated and all her entitlements paid.

© 2011 AFP

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