Africa

Congo diplomat's wife 'smuggled cigarettes' in Romania

Cigarettes for sale at a street market in Pristina (archive shot)
Image caption Albanian-made cigarettes often appear on the black market in Romania

The wife of a diplomat from the Democratic Republic of Congo has been arrested in Romania on suspicion of cigarette smuggling, Romanian prosecutors say.

Police found more than 18,000 cigarette packets hidden in her car.

Esther Pascaline Bombeto, whose husband is accredited in Serbia, reportedly claimed diplomatic immunity before police forcibly searched the car.

She was arrested while returning from Serbia.

'Window smashed'

Romanian intelligence officers and anti-crime police had put the car under surveillance for months.

"Using diplomatic immunity, the smugglers were bringing cigarettes to Romania at least twice a week," organised crime prosecutor Mircea Andres said.

Officers smashed Ms Bombeto's car window with a crow-bar to confiscate the illegal Albanian-made cigarettes after she allegedly refused to co-operate, claiming diplomatic immunity, the Associated Press news agency reports.

At least two Serbian nationals alleged to be Ms Bombeto's accomplices were also detained.

Police were also searching the homes of nine more suspected accomplices in Romania.

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