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Police: Mongolian official accused of sex assault claims memory loss

By Darryl Coote
Police: Mongolian official accused of sex assault claims memory loss
Dorj Odbayar, head of Mongolia's Constitutional Court, leaves a regional police station in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Thursday. Photo by Yonhap

Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A high-ranking Mongolian official accused of groping a South Korean flight attendant last week appears to have backed down from his initial denial of charges during new questioning, police said Thursday.

Dorj Odbayar, the chairman of Mongolia's Constitutional Court, is alleged to have touched the buttocks of a female flight attendant and intimidated a Mongolian crew member on a Korean Air flight from Ulaanbaatar to Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 31.

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During an interrogation by airport police last Friday, he flatly denied the charges, saying he'd been mistaken for another Mongolian man who. He left the country immediately after the probe.

Odbayar returned to South Korea on Wednesday and was detained for a second round of questioning by the Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency. He told investigators he doesn't remember what happened because he was drunk, police said.

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"If the victims made such claims, [I] might have done so under the influence of alcohol," Odbayar was quoted as saying during the nine-hour interrogation. He was released at midnight.

Odbayar had planned to depart for Mongolia in two days, but the authorities banned him from leaving, pending the outcome of the inquiry.

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Police also requested Interpol put on its wanted list a Mongolian official accompanying him, who has been accused of molesting another stewardess, including wrapping his arms around her shoulders.

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Odbayar was on his way to Bali, Indonesia, to attend a board meeting of the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions. The two were apprehended by security staff on the plane and turned over to airport police, but released after claiming diplomatic immunity.

Police later found their immunity claims unwarranted after consultations with the foreign ministry. They probed the top justice in the airport security zone for 1 1/2 hours the following day and then let him leave for Bali. Police failed to question his colleague because he had already left for Singapore.

Before Odbayar returned to Incheon, police secured a court warrant to detain him for two days. The agency said it secured the same warrant for his companion and is consulting the Mongolian Embassy in Seoul over its plan to summon him.

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