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Pakistan bars US diplomat from travel over fatal crash in Islamabad

Col Joseph Hall, a military attaché at the US embassy, reportedly drove through a red light in his official vehicle and rammed into a bike, killing one Ateeq Baig on the spot and injuring his cousin.

world Updated: Apr 25, 2018 13:30 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
United States,Pakistan,black list
The court had earlier criticised police for its sloppy handling of the case. The judge observed that police had damaged the case by not conducting an alcohol test on the diplomat.(Picture for representation)

The Pakistan government said on Tuesday that a United States diplomat involved in the death of a young man in a road accident in Islamabad cannot be arrested or tried but has been put on a “black list” so that he cannot leave the country.

Col Joseph Hall, a military attaché at the US embassy, reportedly drove through a red light in his official vehicle and rammed into a motorcycle, killing one Ateeq Baig on the spot and injuring his cousin.

In a reply to the Islamabad high court, deputy attorney general Raja Khalid said that including the diplomat’s name in the exit control list (ECL) maintained by the interior ministry would be a long process.

Khalid said the Vienna Convention provides immunity to diplomats who are involved in any accident that occurs while they are performing their official duties. “A trial can only be held if the immunity is withdrawn,” the law officer’s reply to the court said.

Justice Aamer Farooq, who is hearing a case regarding the accident that occurred on a busy thoroughfare in the heart of Islamabad on April 7, ordered the foreign ministry to submit its reply to the court’s questions regarding the issue of immunity and placing the diplomat’s name in the ECL.

The diplomat was let go by police after a case was registered as the foreign office said he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Baig’s family petitioned the Islamabad high court to put the diplomat’s name on ECL.

At an earlier hearing, the court observed that diplomatic immunity does not permit the killing of someone. The court also criticised the police for its sloppy handling of the case. The judge observed that police had damaged the case by not conducting an alcohol test on the diplomat.

The diplomatic row between the US and Pakistan over the issue could lead to strict restrictions on the movement of their diplomats. The US administration has notified Pakistani authorities that diplomats at the embassy in Washington and at consulates in other American cities will not be able to travel 40 km beyond from their posts without permission. The notification indicated the restrictions could be imposed from May 1 if certain issues remained unresolved.

First Published: Apr 24, 2018 17:12 IST