US diplomat cannot be arrested or tried in court, government tells IHC

ISLAMABAD: The federal government submitted its reply in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a case involving the killing of a young man by US Defence Attache Col Joseph Emmanuel in a traffic accident.

Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Raja Khalid informed the court that the diplomat can neither be arrested nor tried.
The DAG asserted that the diplomat’s name is in the ‘black list’ according to which he cannot leave the country, however, he added that placing the official’s name in the Exit Control List (ECL) is a long process.
He added that the Vienna Convention ensures immunity to any accident of diplomats occurring during official duty. “A trial can only be held if the immunity is withdrawn,” the reply stated further.
Justice Aamer Farooq then ordered the foreign ministry to submit its reply to the court’s questions regarding the issue of immunity and placement of the diplomat’s name on ECL.
On April 7, Col Joseph ran a red light in his official vehicle and rammed into a motorcycle killing Ateeq Baig on the spot and injuring his cousin.
The diplomat was let go by police after registration of a case after the Foreign Office (FO) said he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
The victim’s family then petitioned the IHC seeking the placement of the diplomat’s name on the ECL.

At an earlier hearing, the court had observed that diplomatic immunity does not permit killing someone.

The court had also come down hard on the police for its sloppy handling of the case.

The judge had remarked that an alcohol test is the first thing to do in hit-and-run cases but the police, in this case, failed to follow procedure probably since they “trembled seeing a foreigner”.
“When a Pakistani is involved in an accident, the police gets inside the vehicle [before anything else] to smell alcohol,” the judge remarked.
Kohsar SHO Khalid Awan submitted the diplomat’s statement in court, after which the judge observed that the statement was not recorded in English, which could serve as a loophole for the diplomat to contest that the statement was recorded in Urdu; a language that he does not speak.
In response to another question, the SHO responded that the statement was recorded while the diplomat was inside his vehicle at the police station.
Justice Farooq then observed that the police itself damaged the case by not conducting an alcohol test.
When asked, SHO Awan informed the court that he was called by the Foreign Office (FO) to let the diplomat go.