The moment a white SUV driven allegedly by a US diplomat hit three men on a motorcycle at a traffic crossing in Islamabad on Saturday - one of the men later died - the CCTV footage suggests that the driver didn't see the red traffic light at all pic.twitter.com/Pf7Wr5zQV9— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) April 7, 2018
A U.S. diplomat allegedly committed a deadly hit-and-run in Islamabad, in a crash that left a motorbike driver dead from head trauma and his passenger injured.
Col. Joseph Emanuel Hall, the defense and air attaché at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, reportedly crashed his fast-moving SUV into a motorcycle after running a red light at a traffic signal.
Footage of the accident shared on Pakistani TV stations and social media clearly show the men on the bike flying in the air, before finally hitting the ground after the impact with the vehicle.
Motorcyclist Ateeq Baig was killed, while his cousin Raheel was critically injured.
According to the local English newspaper, Dawn, “The driver had tried to speed away but he was stopped at a nearby checkpoint, where police tried to question him. He, however, refused to get off from the vehicle — a white Land Cruiser.”
After police arrived at the scene, they asked Hall to surrender. Within a short span of time, several foreigners who identified themselves as U.S. embassy officials also arrived at the location. Hall allegedly asked the police to clear the way because he had a diplomatic immunity.
Halls, his vehicle and one of his colleagues were then taken to the nearby Kohsar police station. Halls was not arrested, all thanks to his diplomatic immunity, and was made to write a statement about the incident and his diplomatic status. The only thing that was confiscated was his vehicle.
Diplomatic immunity is the privilege of exempting diplomats from certain laws and taxes in the state in which they are working. Under this legal immunity, diplomats are not vulnerable to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws — apparently, even if they take someone’s life.
According to a local news station, Geo, Baig’s father said, no one from the U.S. embassy in Islamabad or the Pakistani government contacted him to inquire about his loss.
“My son was going to work when he met with this accident. We don't have enemies and [just] want justice to be served," he said.
According to Secretariat Sub-Divisional Police Officer Assistant Superintendent Zohaib Nasarullah Ranjha, a case was registered by Baig’s father against the driver under Sections 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way), 320 (Punishment for manslaughter by rash or negligent driving), 337-G (Punishment for hurt by rash or negligent driving) and 427 (Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
However, the foreign office is now looking into the matter after Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador, David Hae, to lodge a formal protest for the killing of a Pakistani citizen by a U.S. diplomat.
"The U.S. ambassador was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a strong protest was lodged by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on the tragic death of the motorcyclist and serious injury to the co-rider in the traffic accident on Saturday that involved a U.S. diplomat," read the press release issued on Sunday by the Foreign Office.
"The envoy expressed his deep sympathy and sadness over the loss of life and assured that the embassy would fully cooperate in the investigation," the statement added.
An accident involving a US embassy vehicle occurred in Islamabad. MOFA is looking into the matter. Investigations are being carried out.— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) April 7, 2018
However Baig’s father is not very hopeful and wants justice for his son’s killing.
He believes after police send the documents and officials cards of the diplomat to the Foreign Office and they get verified, the case against Hall will be invalidated and that his vehicle will be released after the embassy and the FO confirm his diplomatic status.
People on social media were naturally outraged by the U.S. diplomat being treated differently after committing a crime because of his diplomatic immunity. Some social media users allege the driver was drunk.
They should be punished as per Pakistan laws. It is ridiculous if departments are not taking action on this. Also media to report this news more widely so people and executives of other countries should know no one above law.— MOM says NO DP/???? ???????? (@Ashfaq4162700) April 8, 2018
Reckless psychopaths like Col. Joseph Emanuel,Defence Attach? who r representing the USA as career diplomats r on the rampage as drunken drivers in aCountry whch has gvn 'em diplomatic immunity wl surely now write a best seller book lyk Raymond Davis at th cost of a poorTeenager.— Aneela khaled (@aneelakhaled) April 7, 2018
US mil attache Col Joseph Emanuel Hall; allegedly drunk, runs a red light and kills a biker rider in Islamabad. US embassy claiming diplomatic immunity for him. Is his offence covered under immunity @rcallimachi @abbasnasir59 @USArmy @nytimes @SSEHBAI1 pic.twitter.com/pm8mHR3Z7h— Omar Safdar, CPP (@omarsafdar_CPP) April 8, 2018
An #American #Diplomat Col. Joseph Emanuel Hall who is suppose to be a Defense and Air Attache, killed a motorcyclist by hitting him with his car in #Islamabad after breaking Red Traffic light @usembislamabad @StateDept @statedeptspox pic.twitter.com/LjGc23rcLZ— Malik Ayub Sumbal??? (@ayubsumbal) April 8, 2018
#Islamabad— Samee Rahman (@srk786_4u) April 8, 2018
Sad to hear about the demise of a student in accident. CCTV footage shows tht US Defence & Air Attaché Col Joseph Emanuel broke Red signal & rammed his vehicle into motorcyclist resultantly killed a student&injured another. pic.twitter.com/UKvbO897tL
''Investigations are being carried out'' ? ..... because Col Joseph has more powers than our PM, who feels no shame in striping at the US Airports. By now that drunk killer must have left Pakistan pic.twitter.com/LXpu9dMT5b— پیار، عشق اور محبت پاکستان (@NaqqarKhaneMae) April 7, 2018
Simply say nothing will be and nothing can be done. Diplomatic license to kill.— Solemndynamo (@solemndynamo) April 8, 2018
Crime is crime whether it's done by an Ambassador or any random person, investigation should be very strict— ???? (@najdaAD) April 8, 2018
Hope, pakistani blood is valued. Or would it be another mantra "do more, do more"— VoAW (@awassae) April 8, 2018
He will walk free we now, slave minds— Waseem Anjum???? (@VaseemDesigner) April 7, 2018
Pakistan rejected the diplomatic immunity for an ex-Central Intelligence Agency employee, Raymond Davis, after he shot two young Pakistani men. According to the law, no foreigner is allowed to carry arms, except soldiers or guards within the premises of an embassy. The court charged Davis with murder, but he was later released after the families of the dead men said they forgave him, following an unspecified compensation.
Coming back to Halls, imagine if a U.S. citizen was killed by a diplomat after violating traffic laws – the suspect would face trials, get court sentences and serve his term.
This raises a very pertinent question: Will Hall walk free for involuntarily killing a Pakistani citizen? And if he does, for how long is the Pakistani government going to let U.S. diplomats literally get away with murder?
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters