SEOUL-- South Korea's foreign ministry meted out its heaviest punishment on Friday against a diplomat in Ethiopia suspected of having sexually assaulted a female subordinate.

The dismissal, the strongest punishment under the ministry's disciplinary regulation, was determined at a disciplinary panel meeting, according to a foreign ministry official. Separately, the diplomat was earlier referred to prosecution for further investigation.

Based on testimonies from the victim and other evidence, the ministry said that he apparently took the woman to his home at night on July 8 and raped her after having dinner together. The woman was known to have been excessively intoxicated when it happened.

An investigation is also underway into separate sexual harassment suspicions involving the country's ambassador to Ethiopia.

The allegations were raised in the process of a probe into the rape case and a team of investigators will be soon sent to the African country to question the ambassador. He has denied any wrongdoings.

This is only the latest in a series of similar incidents involving the country's diplomats stationed overseas.

Last September, a diplomat stationed in Chile was found to have sexually harassed a 14-year-old girl while teaching her Korean. He was later dismissed as a punishment.

An incumbent ambassador dispatched to a Middle East country was also found last year to have been punished for sexually harassing an embassy worker.

Since earlier this year, the ministry has been running a task force looking into ways to step up working discipline, especially for diplomats at overseas missions, as part of efforts to prevent the recurrence of such misdeeds.

Source: Yonhap News Agency