A US diplomat hit and killed a motorcyclist as he jumped traffic signals in Islamabad on Saturday. Police said Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall, defence and air attaché at the US Embassy, hit the motorcyclists at a traffic signal at the intersection of Margalla Road and 7th Avenue at around 3pm.
“The traffic signal was red but he broke it and hit the motorcyclists coming from other side,” a senior police officer told The Express Tribune. Police said there were two youngsters on the motorcycle, one of whom died on the spot while the other sustained injuries.
The deceased was identified as Ateeq Baig, 22. He hailed from Talhar village in the Margalla Hills while his father works as a security guard at a govt school in Saidpur village.
The victim’s father in his complaint to the police said his son and nephew were coming from Daman-e-Koh side on their bike when they were hit by a land cruiser coming from F-8 side at Daman-e-Koh chowk on Margalla Road. The complainant said his son and nephew were crossing the intersection on green signal but the land cruiser was jumping the signals when it hit them.
A traffic police official, who was on duty nearby, immediately responded to the accident and informed the local police, who arrived and took the US colonel and his car to the nearby Kohsar Police Station in F-7. Police said Hall was alone in the car at the time.
At the police station, the US official produced his diplomatic card issued by the Foreign Office as well as his driving licence. Police also contacted the US Embassy which sent its security chief to the police station.
“We have impounded his car and have also kept his diplomatic card and driving licence. We informed the Foreign Office and handed him over to US Embassy officials as per rules,” another officer said.
Police also registered a criminal case against the diplomat late on Saturday night on the complaint of the victim’s families. In the FIR registered at Kohsar Police Station, Hall has been booked for unintentional murder through rash driving.
An officer said police cannot arrest or prosecute him due to his diplomatic immunity. “The case will be dealt with by the US embassy and govt itself,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said they were looking into the incident.
“An accident involving a US Embassy vehicle occurred in Islamabad. Ministry of Foreign Affairs is looking into the matter. Investigations are being carried out,” tweeted FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal.
Further, the US embassy in a statement confirmed the incident, saying they are in contact with the local authorities.
In a stark similarity, in February 2013, a Capital Development Authority (CDA) employee died and his companion was injured critically when an over speeding vehicle with US embassy number plate hit their motorcycle.