US diplomat involved in fatal car crash to face trial in Pak or home country

The diplomat, who is barred from leaving the country, has immunity regarding arrest and detention, but not against trial. The embassy will decide if the trial will be conducted by local courts or in the United States.

world Updated: Apr 11, 2018 16:13 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
US diplomat,US diplomat car crash,Pakistan
A Pakistani policeman walks past the car of an American diplomat who was involved in a collision that lead to the death of a motorcyclist on April 8, 2018. (AFP)

A senior US diplomat will have to face trial either in Pakistan or in his home country, after he was involved in a fatal road accident that killed a motorcyclist, media reports said.

A fast-moving Land Cruiser, driven by Col Joseph Emanuel Hall, the defence and air attache at the US embassy, jumped the red light and hit a motorcycle carrying two men at a traffic signal near Islamabad’s Daman-e-Koh area on Saturday.

One of them died and the other was injured.

In case the US embassy confirms that the accused has diplomatic immunity against trial in Pakistan, he could be tried in US courts, Dawn News reported.

A senior police officer said a case was registered for the crime and that there is therefore no doubt that a trial will be conducted. The diplomat has immunity regarding arrest and detention, but not against trial. He said it was up to the US embassy to decide if the trial will be conducted by the local courts or those in his native country.

Pakistan has earlier lodged a formal protest with US ambassador David Hale and has barred the diplomat from leaving the country.

The police have registered a case and submitted it to the Pakistan Foreign Office, which will forward it to the US embassy in Islamabad. The embassy will in turn decide where the trial will be held, the officials said.

The Foreign Office can also declare the diplomat persona non-grata and ask him to leave the country, they said.

However, it was noted that the capital police bypassed the laid down procedure and gave relief to the accused when he was taken to the Kohsar police station after the accident happened.

An arrested diplomat has to show his immunity card to the police, who will relay the matter to the Foreign Office.

The Foreign Office would have to intimate the embassy in question, the ambassador of which has to claim immunity for the diplomat on the official letter head. After receiving the same, the Foreign Office then has to intimate the interior ministry, which will tell the police to let the concerned diplomat go.

The US diplomat was let go without following this procedure and that the police claims they received verbal confirmation from the Foreign Office. The police do not have the required paperwork in this regard, the report said.

They said the accident happened on a Saturday when most offices are closed and that the procedure of letting the diplomat go should have taken till Monday if properly followed. The accused would therefore have to be detained till Monday, which would not have been in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

Sub-divisional Police Officer Secretariat Assistant Superintendent of Police Zohaib Nasrullah Ranjha said the charge sheet will be submitted to the Foreign Office for further legal action, including a court trial against the diplomat.

First Published: Apr 11, 2018 16:12 IST