Swiss say stray Venezuela golf balls violate Vienna Convention

| Jul. 18, 2015 | Caracas, Venezuela

Published by Reuters

A dispute has been tee'd off between Switzerland's ambassador to Venezuela and a neighboring elite golf club, after a banner appeared at the diplomat's residence warning that golf balls injuring or killing anyone inside would violate the Vienna Convention.

The large placard, located on the residence's fence near the third of the Caracas Country Club's 18 holes, begins by explaining that the residence is considered Swiss territory.

"Launching balls into this residence is a danger to whoever is within Swiss territory and a violation of the Vienna Convention if a golf ball injures or kills anyone on Swiss soil."

Ambassador Sabine Ulmann told Reuters she had nothing to say on the matter. Her residence is located in a wealthy area of Caracas, alongside the official residences of many other European nations.

The private Caracas Country Club itself is one of Venezuela's most elite hangouts. It was derided by late President Hugo Chavez, who described golf as a "bourgeois" sport.

The Venezuelan Federation of Golf said in a statement that it had read the sign with "astonishment."

"We have no fear whatsoever that we are attacking Swiss territory should a golf ball land in embassy premises," the statement read. It added that the sign appeared a "strange overreaction."

Article 30 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations states: "The private residence of a diplomatic agent shall enjoy the same inviolability and protection as the premises of the mission."

(Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Leslie Adler)